If you are looking for a gator trout, now is the time to get your personal best as big trout are striking, stimulated by the dropping water temperatures.
The standard shrimp on a cork, small plastics on jig heads, live baitfish, almost any plug or fly will catch one, but the best action and biggest fish often are caught on surface plugs.
Unlike sub-tropical snook, trout and reds don't mind colder water. The past two weeks it's been top water plugs, big trout and big reds, all in a foot of water or less.
Capt. George Tunison
Usually gator trout are loners. If you are catching one 12-inch trout after another and your goal is a trophy trout, change locations. Trout school according to size and you probably won't catch your gator in this class.
Friday's charter was tough with low water, high wind and a tough bite. I managed to find a school of trout, all small, about 8-12 inches. After a day of tough conditions and zero fish cooperation, any fish was better than none.
I put a big shrimp out on a float as we casted lures. The float soon disappeared and I was rewarded with the biggest spotted trout I've caught in 10 years. A true southwest Florida jumbo gator that fought like a seven-pound redfish.
Juvie trout school according to size and I wonder if this big guy was feasting on his smaller cousins.
If you want that trophy grab a handful of top plugs in different colors (and a big live shrimp) and go to work. Wind drift the one- to two-foot depths making random casts. Trophy trout are noise sensitive in skinny water and did not reach five pounds around here by being stupid. Loud talking sometimes will spook fish in thin, quiet waters as will pressure waves from a rocking hull. Banging deck lids or shuffling feet ruins your shot at your very own gator.
Stay still, get into stealth mode and as the logo states: Shut Up and Fish!
One more thing that really scares fish is driving a boat right through the area people are casting to. This past week all of my charter trips have been haunted by (don't get me started, too late) boaters that just don't have a clue as to what the word courtesy means or simply are rude and don't care.
Please, if you and another boat are fishing the flats and there is a thousand yards between you both and another thousand yards all around you what in the world would make you decide, "Well, it's time to move locations and I think I'll drive a quarter mile over to those guys and drive right through the spot those guys are casting to."
Typically, the clueless grin and smile and wave as they scatter the fish you finally found to the four corners of the earth. The others, they simply don't care.
Humans are all strange creatures it seems. On the water most boaters smile and wave at each other, put them in a car and most would rather run you into a ditch before letting you in the traffic line.
As a guide I've learned to take it all in stride because at my age, it simply beats a stroke.
Big trout and reds over 30 inches are patrolling the flats of both north and south Matlacha Pass, both sides, waiting to be caught.
As a mostly artificial lure angler I have to keep reminding myself to slow my retrieves in the cooling water. It really can make a big difference by the end of a day's fishing.
As it grows colder, being on the water at first light loses a lot of its significance. Stay in bed like the fish and let the sun warm the water.
If you are getting hits on lures but no real takers, chances are you are retrieving too fast in the cooling waters.
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.