Saturday, March 10, 2012

Sarasota Bay yields record trout day for this writer

This monster seatrout weighed in at 9 pounds and was 29 inches in length. The fish was caught on a MirrOlure MirrOdine.

Give credit to the kayak.

I discovered the mother lode of large spotted seatrout on an outing back in November as I was slowly poling along a grass edge in Sarasota Bay. As I was pushing my Native Watercraft Ultimate 14.5 down the edge, I noticed large seatrout.

A friend of mine in his 18-foot flats skiff was in the area, so I didn’t want to fish just then. I sat down and paddle off to another spot.

A couple of hours later, I returned. Casting a MirrOlure MirrOdine, I caught and released 17 spotted seatrout from 2 to 5 pounds. That’s a great catch anywhere.

I talked with my friend later that day and told him about the trout.

“Yeah,” he said, “we saw them, but we couldn’t get them to hit a thing.”

That’s pretty typical when you’re talking kayak vs. skiff. The stealthiness of the kayak usually wins every time. Those trout didn’t even know I was there.

The big trout have been in that spot since October. My clients and I have been catching and releasing large trout over the past 5 months. Jason Beary from Warren, Pa., had a good day with me the last week of December, catching trout to 4 pounds on MirrOdines.

Bill Koenemann of Fort Wayne, Ind., had a good day on big trout. Dick Combs of Bartow, Fla., didn’t land any monsters, but did catch five trout of more than 4 pounds.

Wade Collier of Longboat caught a 5-pounder – the largest trout of his life.

I’ve caught a number of trout, including a 6-pounder. But I knew there were larger trout at the spot. I hooked a monster on the last trip of a recent outing, but lost the trout when the hooks pulled after a 3-minute battle.

The heaviest spotted seatrout I’ve even caught was a 6 ½-pounder. I caught that fish in March of 2007 in Pine Island Sound. I used a jerk worm on a slightly-weighted hook.

A year ago, Chuck Linn of Oklahoma caught three monster trout in one morning. They ranged in size from 6 ¼ to slightly more than 7 pounds.

That, I told him, was the catch of a lifetime.

“We don’t catch three trout that size in year … let alone in one morning,” I said. “Make sure you buy a Lottery ticket on your way home.”

I had the catch of a lifetime on March 11. And it was almost by accident. I’d caught and released five redfish to 26 inches the day prior and I planned to target them again. But, as I always say, you can’t predict what’s going to happen on any trip by what took place the day prior.

I caught reds, but only two. And they were small, 15 and 18 inches.

So, I changed plans. I paddled to my big trout spot, anchored the kayak and got out. I began wading and casting a MirrOdine on a light spinning rod.

Didn’t take long before a monster trout grabbed the lure. I could tell this was no ordinary trout as it took line and made runs.

I backed the drag off. You don’t want a tight drag because that often will rip the hooks right out of a trout’s tender mouth.

When I finally saw the fish, I could hardly believe what I saw. It was the monster I’ve been look for in my 41 years in Florida.

I carefully slipped the Boga-Grip into the trout’s mouth and then removed the hooks. The fish measured 29 inches and weighed 9 pounds.

It was by far the largest trout I’ve ever caught.

After releasing the fish (it swam off right away), I began fishing again. Ten minutes later, I hooked another monster. I didn’t figure it was as large as the first, but it was hefty.

But when I got the first glimpse of the fish, I could see it was another impressive trout. This one was 28.5 inches and weight 8 ½ pounds.

I caught two more impressive trout, a 7 ¾-pounder and a paltry 6 ¼-pounder.

I’m not sure what’s going on, but it just might be an upswing in the cycle. A friend of mine caught a trout weighing more than 9 pounds a day earlier.

I believe I found a spot that is attractive to big trout. There’s a shallow, grassy flat where they can search for food. There’s deep water immediately off the edge for safety. The area also features a lot of bait and plenty of cover.

I think the trout must spawn in the area. The big fish that my clients and I have been catching are fat and full of roe.

The three monster trout Chuck Linn caught on March 24, 2011 were very thin and obviously roed out. What I caught were pre-span trout. Linn caught post-spawners.

No matter. The area obviously is a haven for big trout. It has been producing even since I found the fish last October.

The best days seem to be those in which there’s a low tide or negative low tide at daylight. The fish hit during the first few hours of the incoming tide.

I look for more big trout action throughout this month. I addition, redfish, flounder, pompano, bluefish and Spanish mackerel should cooperate.

It’s a great spot.

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