The Spotted Sea Trout is known to be the most targeted inshore species on Florida’s west coast… and for good reason. Trout travel our waters year-round and are found in many locations, from our nearshore wrecks to our most secluded backcountry tea-colored, brackish waters. Their color range is indicative of that habitat with colors from clean and bright olive, silver and gold with those pronounced spots, to that gnarly dark backcountry olive with that beautiful yellow mouth.

This time of year, when waters are cooling down and other fish are acting weird at times, the trout can be a trip saver (if ya’ can find them!). They are pack hunters, aggressive and voracious feeders. They will hit a lure multiple times while in hunt mode. Trout are also good table fare with limits of three per angler, which is plenty to serve a couple of meals.

I love getting into trout because, as pack hunters, once found you’ll be set for some exciting fishing. In addition, they compete with and run in the company of jacks and ladyfish. The action can be nonstop! One of my sayings on the skiff is “action brings action,” and that’s no truer than in the trout/jack/ladyfish bite. 

One trait about trout is consistency as they tend to stay true to certain areas, such as grass flats, oyster bars, troughs and cuts. Trout tend to like moving water, and if conditions are right, they can be predictable. That’s why it’s important to take note when you find them. My buddies and I have a few “trout spots” that are pretty darn consistent, and you should have a go-to spot as well. Trout also are a good target species for the young or less experienced anglers with tackle and lures that are very simple and user friendly.

Next up is choosing the right tackle for trout fishing. Put these items on your shopping list:

• Medium weight rod in the 7ft range

• 2500 or 3000 series reel

• 8, 10 or 15lb braid with a 20lb mono or flouro leader

How much simpler can it be? A go-to rig for many of us that is easy to use and widely effective is the popping cork. Whether using the simple concave cork on your leader or the dedicated slip cork will work. Tie on a leader that’s depth relevant; a 1/8oz jig head with either GULP or a plastic grub. Work that cork aggressively and keep a sharp eye on the cork because the strikes are usually while they are on the run. They hit hard, so REEL, REEL, REEL once that cork disappears.

The traditional gold spoon is also extremely effective. I love using it as a search bait. Cast it long and retrieve it with a nonstop, steady pace. It couldn’t get much easier.

Next is the tried-and-true paddle tail on a jig head. These simple baits mimic baitfish, so chose them accordingly to the water conditions or the bait you may be seeing. They, too, are a simple cast-and-retrieve lure and manage their retrieve based on the trout’s reaction. At times, a faster retrieve works when trout get finicky. A low to the bottom and slower retrieve will be the formula for success. The suspending hard bait like the Rapala Twitchin Mullet is probably my favorite. Again, it’s a simple cast with a 2-second count so it settles and sinks a bit. Then… twitch, twitch, twitch and BOOM – I love it!

So get out, look for those ladyfish schools, get these lures wet and have fun, 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: