Soon, seatrout harvest may be allowed year round under upcoming rule changes by the powers that be.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) approved several draft amendments for spotted seatrout regulations that would open recreational harvest and expand commercial fishing opportunities.
The FWC claims to have managed spotted seatrout for more than 20 years and helped rebuild overfished populations. A 2010 stock assessment of spotted seatrout in Florida indicated the annual management goals consistently are being exceeded across the state.
Capt. George Tunison
As a result, the FWC is proposing to increase fishing opportunities for spotted seatrout in Florida. The proposal would open current recreational closed months by removing the February closure in North Florida and the November-through-December closure in South Florida, allowing spotted seatrout to be harvested year-round in all areas of the state.
Commissioners are looking into increasing the recreational bag limit in the Northeast Region, increasing the commercial fishing season from three months to five months, allowing sale of seatrout inventory for 30 days after the commercial season closes, and creating a vessel limit of 150 seatrout when two licensed commercial fishermen are on board.
A final public hearing on the proposed spotted seatrout rules is scheduled during the November FWC meeting in Key Largo.
The past two-three years have been great for gator-sized specimens. We continue to catch big trout right now in hot and skinny water throughout Matlacha Pass and up into Charlotte Harbor. The flats, at the top of Pine Island, usually hosts good-to-great trout fishing. Burnt Store Bar has miles of excellent fishing for all species with reds and trout the feature draw this time of year.
What constitutes a gator trout varies from region to region. Here, a trout of four pounds would be considered a gator. In north Florida a gator would be seven pounds and up.
No matter where you fish trout in Florida, big topwaters at dawn (or lately right at high sun) will catch the big trout and reds in very shallow water as will soft plastic jerk baits, soft plastic jigs, gold spoons, Mirr-O-lures, and DOA Shrimp's, both free casted and under a cork.
Weeds are floating everywhere causing lots of issues for lure slingers. I've been told the dead floating grasses and weeds covering the surface of many local fishing flats are due to shallow water commercial shrimp operations. Whatever the cause it makes fishing almost impossible in several key areas of our fishery.
Make sure you take along a few spinnerbaits this redfish season. If you are a bass guy you will be in hog heaven when a 12-pound red whacks your blade bait in 10 inches of water. I've found the spinnerbait to be a consistent big redfish lure. I'm not sure if the intent is to kill it because the vibration annoys them or to eat it. Considering how hard they strike I'll go for the kill theory.
Try a 1/4- to 3/8-ounce lure with a gold Colorado blade, a white-gold flecked skirt. Adding gold DOA Cal Minnow turned upside down and super glued to the hook shaft makes this a red-hot spinner lure for fall redfish. Fish the bait with a medium and steady retrieve. Strike King makes their version, called Redfish Magic, and is available everywhere.
For a real thrill bass addicts should not overlook the buzz bait for shallow water schooling redfish. A redfish or two or three trying to inhale a buzz bait is quite a sight to see. I definitely recommend fishing a trailer hook on your buzz bait. You will find it will greatly increase your hookup ratio.
A good buzz bait will allow you to fish it super slow; just fast enough to keep it on the surface gurgling along.
Capt. George Tunison is a Cape Coral resident fishing guide. Contact him at 239-282-9434 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or Flying Fins Sportfishing.