Want to Catch Monster Seatrout?
Anyone can get lucky and catch a large seatrout; however, it takes an understanding of these trophy fish to do it on a regular basis. Big seatrout have always been one of my favorite targets. . In terms of difficulty, they may be the hardest fish on our flats to sight fish. Trophy sized seatrout are extremely wary, they have excellent eye sight, a lateral line that feels every vibration, and they are designed with some of the best camouflage nature has ever designed. Consistently spotting these fish requires patience, the right gear, and knowing what conditions they like. After spending 35 years on the water, countless hours searching and studying these fish, and tons of experimenting with flies, I have become fairly successful at targeting them. Over the last few years we have lost count of the number of trout over 25 inches we have taken and the numbers of seatrout over 30 inches get better every year. So, what exactly does it take?
The first step in success is knowing where to look. Trophy sized seatrout are nothing like their smaller brethren. While small trout love to school up and sit in troughs, trophy sized seatrout are usually loners. With the exception of breeding time, large seatrout are usually very territorial and tend to keep other seatrout out of the area. When hunting likely locations, you need to think like a trout. Remember, they are apex predators who use their camouflage to ambush prey. If you look at the fish, they are primarily designed to feed at the same level or up; unlike redfish and bonefish. I tend to look for areas that have grass and sand. This mixture provides ample opportunity for the fish to conceal themselves in the grass, waiting for some poor shrimp or baitfish to come cruising to its demise. The time of year dictates the depth of water that I look for. Many people forget that the seatrout in our area are semi-tropical. They enjoy summer months and can often be found in areas you wouldn't expect them in the hottest times.
The next step in success is having the proper gear. I'll start with the boat. Your boat should be shallow draft and quiet. My Waterman 16 is both of these; she is capable of floating in under five inches loaded and is very stealthy while being poled. Will the fish be in five inches of water? Maybe, but most likely no. However, when thinking about how much water your boat requires you need to think about displacement. The more water your boat drafts, the more it displaces as you move through the water. Every bit of displaced water moves away from the boat, creating waves and pressure changes. Seatrout have a lateral line designed to pick up these changes and become alerted to the changes. The need to be quiet is self explanatory. Noise spooks any fish and trophy seatrout are no different. While considering noise, I'll give you an extra hint: replace the plastic fork on your pushpole with a wood fork (if you need information, email me. Flip and I make these and I promise it makes a world of difference.) Next, be sure to pole your boat! I cannot emphasize this enough! Trolling motors have their place, but hunting trophy seatrout is not it. The majority of these fish are way too sensitive to utilize trolling motors; in addition, many of the places are too shallow to use them. So stop using the poling platform for a motor shade and get up there and use it for its purpose. Tackle selection is not difficult. Here is my standard setup: 7-weight fly rod, weight forward floating line (I like longer tapers, not the short, over-weighted redfish lines), a reel of proper size (make sure it has a smooth drag with very low start-up inertia), and a 12 foot leader with 12 pound tippet (if they are extremely spooky, I may extend the leader to 15 feet and lower the tippet to 8 pounds). Spinning and plug casting gear is not difficult either. You want a rod capable of handling light weighted lures and jigs, a reel with a smooth drag, 8-12 pound test line, and if using braid, a nice long leader. These fish will often be found in shallow water, so you want something that can make a soft presentation without spooking the trout.
Another important step for success is to TAKE YOUR TIME! More often than not, many people search their fishing area way too fast. When giving seminars, I ask a simple question, "How many have seen a tailing or backing seatrout?" The majority (80-90 percent) of the people do not raise their hand. If you have never seen this sight, then you are most likely searching the area too fast. Trophy seatrout are hard to pick up. Taking your time gives your eyes more time to focus and pick out things that don't quite fit. Add in some really good polarized glasses, to take off glare and make you able to see into the water. Search the area slow, looking into the water and paying attention to shadows. Often seatrout appear like a shadow, silhouetted against the grass or sand. If you think you see a fish, take a shot. Be sure to look near the boat too. You'll be amazed how many times a massive trout will be discovered right by the boat.
The video to the right was taken today (07-15-2017). The seatrout was 32" long and taken in about 10" of water. If you want a chance at fish like these, contact me and lets book a trip! There isn't a better time to hunt these big girls and catch a trophy seatrout. Add in some redfish, snook and even tarpon and fishing doesn't get any better!