There are many coastal rivers and bays in Florida that feature outstanding cool-season trout action. Best of all, the tactics used in one area often work just as well elsewhere. Here are six of our favorite techniques for catching spotted seatrout when the cold fronts have been roaring through the Sunshine State.
Six Favorite Techniques for Winter Seatrout
1) Slow-Sinking Plugs: When the water temperature is cold trout are less aggressive and they love a dying fish. Slow-sinking plugs like the Bomber Mullet, 52M MirrOlure or a Countdown Rapala are great trout producers. Cast them out and let them sink slightly twitching the rod every now and then; trout usually hit them on the fall.
2) Slow-Sinking Soft Plastics: Soft-plastic jerkbaits rigged weedless and slightly weighted can be deadly this time of year. Weight a jerkbait with a small splitshot or rig it on a hook that has a lead weight on the shank of the hook, the slow falling bait is perfect for lethargic winter trout.
3) Suspending Lipped Divers: Suspending lipped diving plugs seem to work best in the winter; supending lures don’t float to the surface when you pause them. Two examples are the Smithwick Suspending Rattlin’ Rogue and Bomber Suspending Long A. Twitch them twice and let them sit for a second. Trout nearly always hit them on the pause.
4) Casting a Jig and Soft Plastic: You can’t go wrong pounding the banks with a jig, and soft-plastic, curly-tail grubs, stingray grubs, paddle-tails and jerkbaits all work well. In the Fort George River in Northeast Florida, for example, natural colors seem to work best; white, opening night, smoke and sea ghost are popular colors. Bouncing the grubs on the bottom is an effective retrieve.
5) Trolling Grub-Tail Jigs: The forgotten art of trolling is still one of the best techniques for winter trout. Let your jig and soft plastic out behind the boat about 50 feet and drag the baits as close to the bottom as possible. Savvy trollers often tip their grubs with shrimp which brings more strikes.
6) Float Fishing: A slip bobber rig can be deadly for trout in deep water. Drift a live shrimp beneath the float with the stop knot adjusted so that the bait is suspended about a 1 foot off the bottom. Trout are usually found on the first ledge just off the bank. FS