Saturday, March 26, 2011

Oklahoma angler has the day of a lifetime on Sarasota Bay

Oklahoma's Chuck Linn battles a beefy trout in shallow water.

When Chuck Linn hooked, fought and landed a 4-pound spotted seatrout first thing in the morning, it figured to be a good day on Sarasota Bay.

Of course, every day on the bay is great; some are just better than others.

Spotted seatrout are common in Sarasota Bay and catches of 50 or more are common. But most range from undersized to maybe 24 inches. Slot limit for trout is 15 to 20 inches.

Linn, an Oklahoma native, kept casting the 3.5-inch Bomber Ba-donka-donk, a mullet-looking topwater plug. And he kept hooking trout. But these trout dwarfed his first fish. He landed a trout that weight slightly more than 6 pounds on the Boga Grip. He added a trout of more than 7 pounds a little while later. And he capped his morning with another trout of more than 6 pounds.

Chuck Linn shows off the first of three huge spotted seatrout.
 We usually don’t catch that many “gator” trout in a year.

But large trout seem to be the norm this year around Sarasota Bay. In January, a local angler landed a 9-pounder.

Twice over three days, Capt. Rick Grassett of the Snook Fin-Addict guide services had clients land trout of 6 pounds or larger.

“We’ve been hearing about large trout for quite some time now,” said Keith Tennant, who works at Economy Tackle in Sarasota.

Obviously, it’s just a high point in the cycle. But who cares? We just hope to get in on the action a few more times before it ends.

Usually, there aren’t many large trout taken along Florida’s Southwest coast. We have a lot of trout, but don’t encounter many large fish.

It’s different along the state’s East coast, where 10-pounders are fairly common.

One thing I’ve always known is that most of the larger trout are taken in very shallow water. That held true for Linn. His trio of titanic trout was taken from 12 inches of water.

The largest trout I’ve caught was a 6 ½-pounder in March 2007. I caught the fish on a jerk worm in Pine Island Sound while fishing for redfish with Capt. Danny Latham. I landed a 6-pounder in 1990 while fishing the warm-water runoff at the Crystal River Power Plant. I used a Cotee Jig.

Linn bested my record easily – in just a couple of hours.

While I don’t expect this action to go on forever, I do think it will last at least another month or two.

If my clients want a lot of fish, I can take them to the deep grass areas where they will catch plenty of small to slot trout. If my clients want big fish, we’ll catch a low tide and head for the shallows. They might only catch five fish, but there could be a monster or monsters in the group.

I told Chuck Linn his 4-pounder probably would be the fish of the day.

I was wrong.

I apologized to Chuck.

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