May 19, 2014
There's no better tool for catching seatrout in the docklights than a flyrod. Of course, many of you reading this already know that!
Visit any lighted dock on intracoastal waters, with some moving tide, and odds are good you'll find trout.
Now is the time of year when docklight trout fishing gets really hot all around the state. Or maybe that's just my own thermostat speaking: As summer weather settles in, the prospect of fishing on a cool, clear night becomes ever more attractive.
My favorite setup is a 7- or 8-weight, 9-foot rod with a floating, weight-forward line and a simple leader: about 5 feet of 30- or 40-pound butt section, followed by 2 feet of 20-pound-test mono or fluorocarbon leader.
If the water is very clear, as it often is during the incoming tide, we may add another foot of 10-pound tippet, using the same material as the rest of the leader (it's best not to mix mono and fluoro). If there are snook in the picture, we'll instead add 30-pound tippet, for a little extra abrasion-resistance.
What flies? Any small, light-colored streamer will get a take. My usual choice is a Clouser minnow or a krystal-chenille woolly bugger tied on a No. 4 or 6 hook. All-white is all right, in my book.
Trout are sometimes active feeders, popping on little shrimp and minnows in the lights, but often they're in a holding pattern, either deep or tucked away in the shadows of a dock. Approach the lighted area of the dock quietly, either drifting into range or slowly moving with a trolling motor. Stay a long cast out, and find your comfortable casting distance by making a few casts in the dark water, before working closer to the pool of light. Allow the fly to sink for a few seconds, and then make short, quick strips. If a fish boils up on the fly but fails to connect, strip faster.
Shown here is my father, an avid trout fisherman on waters salty and fresh, casting at docklights in southeast Florida. The fish have been averaging right what you'd want them to average: In an hour of fishing, you're likely to catch four trout 15 to 20 inches, with one over the 20-inch maximum, as well as several release fish. Remember the regulations now differ for other parts of Florida. For complete regs, click here. Also check out the new Florida Sportsman Fish ID Lawsticks for the Gulf and Atlantic coasts, here.