Targeting Spotted Seatrout in the Central West Region with Capt. Geoff Page

June is a hot month in Florida, so if you’re going to want to target spotted seatrout you want to be on the water at dawn to take advantage of the coolest time of the day. You can catch trout all day long, but the best bites are going to take place during the first three hours of light, when the fish are most active.

If you’re looking for big trout and the tide is up, try to get on the shallowest flat you can find where there’s a good mix of mullet and pilchards. The baitfish go into the shallows to escape the trout, and the trout work the edges of those shallow areas for the baits that push off the crown of the flat. You want to be on top of the bar, and it doesn’t have to be grassy, it can be a big sandy bar, as long as the bait is there. Find the bait and you’ll find the fish.

Clean was is another key factor to look for. Trout like clean, clear water, they won’t hang out in that dirtied and stagnant stuff.

In the south part of my region, just inside Stump Pass on the west side of Lemon Bay north and south of Stump Pass has some beautiful grass flats for fishing trout. On the north end of my region, the mouth of the Manatee River, off Rattlesnake Key and Emerson Point are all good spots.

Target the trout with topwater plugs, soft plastic jerkbaits and shad-type soft plastics. Suspending baits also work well, particularly on the deeper flats in 2 or 3 feet of water, and on windy days when the mullet aren’t likely to be on top swimming in the chop. I really like the darker colors like rootbeer, dark green, smoke and brown. A lot of the shrimp are brown, and all the baitfish are either black or green backed.

Live shrimp and pilchards are other good options for targeting trout, especially the larger trout. I like to fish shrimp under a popping cork so I can keep it suspended above the grass, and freeline the live pilchards which tend to naturally swim above the grass.  

In the middle of the day if you have high water, you’ll find the trout sitting in the deeper potholes in the grass in 2 to 4 feet of water, usually on the flats that are pretty close to the passes. When the tide starts to fall out, the trout move into those potholes, and a live pinfish under a cork will catch a lot of fish.

One of the most overlooked locations to target trout in the summer months is around the dock lights after dark. They lights of the docks attract baitfish and shrimp, which in turn attract a lot of trout. The dock lights are really known for fishing snook, but we catch a lot of good trout around the docks at night, particularly in the summer when it’s hot during the day. The trout can move up into the lights at night to feed when it’s a lot more comfortable.

For tackle, a seven to seven and a half foot 8 to 12 pound rod is perfect, spooled up with 10 pound braided line. You want that longer rod and braided line so you can make the longest cast possible. Trout see and hear really well, so the longer the cast the better the odds of getting a bite.  

Captain Tips