We have been enjoying typical late summer and early fall redfish catches for several weeks on the pristine flats of Pasco and Hernando counties. Atypical has been the consistent presence of over-sized spotted trout we are catching while hunting the reds in knee-deep water. Virtually none of the trout have been less than 20 inches and are common to 25 inches.
These two species of drum are commonly found together after the first significant cold fronts of fall, Indian summer days of winter and early spring. However, the lack of cool fronts thus far makes the presence of these “gator” trout surprising. Outside limestone points leading into creek mouths and small bayous are producing best.
Speckled trout of this caliber are often found in clear and shallow water. They require stealth in approaching and presenting your baits. Unlike typical slot sized trout, snook, and redfish that often return to their haunts after being spooked, trout of this class rarely do.
The trick is to anchor at least 50 yards up tide of limestone or rocky points. Suspend a scaled sardine under a small float and allow the bait to drift across the point by opening the bail and allowing the tide to carry your bait distances too far to be reached by conventional casting techniques.
Often the school will become wary and drop back several yards after a few fish have been hooked. Slightly crushing a few scaled sardines and tossing them towards the point in moderation will often “pull” the school back. Live chumming is a misunderstood art by many. Too much, too soon, is often worse than not having live bait to begin with.
Capt. Robert McCue can be reached at (800) 833-0489 or through his website, www.GiantTarpon.com