Speckled Trout Like Lots of Noise

by Herb Allen 
Now that the statewide net ban has been in effect for two years, speckled trout populations throughout Florida are rapidly recovering. 

Although their numbers have yet to reach early to mid-1980s levels, the popular trout have responded to this protection as predicted and, soon, should once again be the Sunshine State's most prolific saltwater angling target. 

Trout are quite democratic and frequent waters that are accessible to nearly everyone including landlubbers who fish from piers, bridges, seawalls, or by wading. 

Since they frequent shallow beach, inshore, brackish river, or backcountry waters, anyone with a small boat can reach prime trout country easily and safely from any Florida shoreline. 

Even better, no fancy-smancy tackle is needed. The same outfit used to catch bass, bream, or speckled perch in freshwater is adequate to search out spotted trout. 

Such live baits as shrimp and small minnows will readily seduce trout as will a wide array of artificials including topwater bass plugs, crankbaits, spoons, spinnerbaits, jigs, and a variety of soft plastics. 

There's even an element of suspense awaiting trout aficionados in that trout waters are also frequented by snook, redfish, and, on occasion, tarpon, bluefish, and Spanish mackerel. 

Probably no method for consistently catching trout is better than a tandem rig employing a splashy surface plug or popping cork with a jig or shrimp trailer. 

The idea is that a disturbance on top will attract a trout's attention, and when it comes up to investigate, it'll see the jig or shrimp two or three feet beneath the surface and can't resist the siren song of an easy snack. 

For this type of fishing activity, we'll take our boat out to grassy flats area and let a slight breeze move our craft along on a slow drift. 

Using a light spinning outfit with 6- or 8-pound-test line, we'll run a popping cork about two or three feet up the line and tie on a 1/8-ounce Cotee Liv'Eye Action Jig. Depending upon the time of year and the water's clarity, we'll use either a light- or dark-colored Chubby Grub, Shad Tail, or Swirl Tail. 

As a rule-of-thumb, use dark grubs or tails in dingy water or on overcast days and lighter grubs in clear water during bright sunshiny days. 

Many anglers use a short section of heavier, 12- to 18-pound-test monofilament leader material between the cork and jig. Others don't on the theory that a light line is harder for a fish to detect. 

Either way, just be certain to check the line near the hook or jig for nicks or frays after each fish is landed because trout have sharp teeth. 

While working a cork rig, space each "pop" a few seconds apart and, when the cork or surface lure ducks under the water's surface, set the hook with a minimum amount of force because trout have tender mouths that tear easily. 

Copyright © 1997 Herb Allen. All rights reserved.