By Joe Garcia

I love this cooler weather, cooler water and these great tides… conditions that fire up the trout bite!

Trout, despite their size, are apex predators in our waters. They are aggressive, fun to catch and great table fare. Trout will acclimate easily to different water conditions, and I’ve found them well back into brackish waters where they can be as numerous as out in the Gulf. I feel they are the most beautiful of our inshore species with their big eyes, toothy mouth and numerous spots along their streamlined body. They can be silvery and bright near the outside or take on that dark copper hue in the backcountry (my favorite colors), and that big ole yellow mouth… beautiful.

Our November 2023 Fishing Blog offers insight and tips when fishing for trout.

Trout love feeding in moving water, and in many cases, you’ll find jacks and ladyfish running with them. The times when we get into the ladyfish bite, I’ll tell friends trout are nearby and that “action brings action.” When you encounter those bait pods, get to work and hunt those trout. Once into them, their aggressive nature works to your advantage. Be ready for follows up to the boat and up-close strikes on that last pause. They are competitive eaters and will not be intimidated by the jack or ladyfish. The trout’s aggressive and predatory nature motivates them to strike at lures that would seem oversized, for instance, a 15” trout hitting your 5” Skitterwalk, and that topwater strike is insane!

As far as lures, my go-to for trout lately has been a 1/4-oz chartreuse jig head with a 3-inch Gulp shrimp the color pearl that has been on fire, with the new penny a close second. Additionally, I enjoy using a paddle tail like a 4-inch Zman PaddlerZ in pearl or pinfish, or a Slam Shady color MinnowZ on a 1/4-oz jig head. At times, if I’m already rigged for or casting for Snook, I’ll use my Snook rig with the Zman JerkShadZ 5” in the pearl or Shiner pattern. A great setup for folks with a tough time casting, kids or those new to fishing is the simple popping cork. The basic wind-on cork with the concave head works fine, or if you want a dedicated setup, there are a variety of manufacturers. One that’s been consistent for me is the Cajun Thunder – great sound and is very durable. Be aware of the water’s depth because it’s rarely more than 3 or 4 feet on average. Watch for possible hang-ups with oysters or structures in the backcountry. Because of that, I usually hang only about 1 or 2 feet of mono leader to a 1/8-oz or 1/4-oz jig, tipped with a Gulp shrimp, and go to it! As for hard baits, a favorite of mine is the Rapala Twitchin Mullet size 6 or 8. I make sure to “match the hatch” with these and choose a pattern close to what I see for bait in the area. It might be a pearl white, it might be a pinfish or it might be a finger mullet pattern. The Rapala works as great search bait in that they cast great distances and a kind of walk-the-dog retrieves will induce strikes. Speaking of search baits… if you are in hunt mode, tie on a gold spoon of your choice and launch them, another great classic lure for trout and more.

Folks, remember that moving water is key, so look for pinch points, eddies behind those points, troughs, depressions, edges, oyster bars and grass flats – anything that would identify as structure and that can alter or affect the flow of water might be what holds the bait. Terrain like that will carry the baitfish through and allow the trout to set up in ambush spots as is their nature. Now, as aggressive as trout can be, they can also be finicky. Generally, I’ll work a lure pretty quickly with short, sharp twitches and an occasional pause in the retrieve… BUT I’ve seen lately where trout will hit a “dead” lure. By dead I mean on the drop or a long pause. It’s a totally new concept to me, but it’s been extremely effective, especially with the Gulp. By the way, a surprising recent bycatch when fishing the outside for trout has been the Pompano bite. Talk about great fights and table fare!

My friends, our trout are great to eat and the trout slot is 15” to 19” on our coast. Please remember to limit your catch and don’t keep your limit.😉Enjoy this time of year and be safe out there, folks.

About the Author

Joe Garcia is the Brand Fishing Ambassador at Sunshine Ace Hardware.

Contact Joe for information on the hottest new fishing gear in stock, local fishing tips and more: JGarcia@SunshineAce.com.

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