Targeting Springtime Seatrout

Posted on

Spring is prime time for gator trout (fish over 8 lbs.) as they begin stacking up at nights during falling tides or on cooler, shallow riverside flats. Both areas provide excellent forage opportunities for big breeding males and females to fuel their passions and help perpetuate the species. They also are a favorite among Carolina Skiff aficionados.

There are two favorite methods of targeting gator trout. The fist is drifting large live baits on circle hooks through coastal passes like Sebastian Inlet and the entrance to Halifax River at night. Favorite baits include large, handpicked shrimp, large silver mullet, croakers, and pinfish. Regardless, you’ll want 2/0 circle hook attached to a 12-18 inch length of 20-lb. Fluorocarbon leader. The leader should be connected via small barrel swivel and to mainline.

Best hookups are received when casting to popping fish in quartering current, allowing the bait to follow the tide out naturally; this is where the weigh is essential. You want just enough weight to keep the bait down, but not enough to bury it in the bottom. The hook set should be a slow wind with steady pressure, and then the fun begins!

As the sun begins to peak over the horizon, baitfish favored by big trout seek the safety of cooler, shallow grass flats. The larger seatrout follow this trend, using the shallow water to their advantage, pinning larger along shorelines where they are easier to catch. This is a great time to target larger trout with artificial, and even site casting to waking or laid up fish. Braided line and baitcasters make for easier long-range prospecting, tipped with a light fluorocarbon leader. Artificials like the Zara Spook or Skitterwalk are favorites, especially in traditional red-and-white or natural colors.

In either case, be sure to handle your trophy trout with care, removing them from water as little as possible and holding them horizontally for a quick photo before release. For more Captain’s’ Notes and helpful fishing, boating and family fun tips, visit www.carolinaskiff.com.