Lower Tampa Bays gator trout action is hot! Before we get to the action we started by gathering bait on the grass flats rather than fighting 1-2’ swells along the local bridges. A few minutes of chumming and 7 throws of the cast net and we were good to go.
Needing the tide to rise along Mangrove Islands for redfish Captain Steven targeted trout in 2-4’ of water dotted with sandy potholes. These potholes are grocery stores for trout. I am finding the big trout in slightly cooler deeper water not the 1-’2 areas that gator trout called home the previous 3 months. Fly lined white baits on 2/0 circle hooks and 25 pound fluorocarbon leader completes our rigging. I choose the 25 pound leader vs. 15 or 20 as the area we are fishing also holds big redfish.
First baits in resulted in chunky trout all 18-20”. The trout were very aggressive and would inhale baits as big as 5” with ease. Unlike small trout big trout are solitary or in small schools so I move as soon as we go 10 minutes without another fish. I make small moves 25 to 50 yards using the trolling motor. Next stop same results. The trout bite was awesome to say the least with many over 20” with a beautiful 26” topping the day.
Next up I ran to the beach for mackerel and Kingfish. Winds were more SE than ESE so there was 1-2’ swells along the beach so rather than bounce around we move back inside for redfish. Focusing on mullet schools near mangrove islands we were able to take 4 reds 19-23” in 30 minutes. Cut white baits soaked in the mullet schools did the trick. Again very simple tactics but very effective.
The deeper grass flats 4-6’ offered lots of smaller trout 13-16” with mackerel and bonnet head sharks mixed in. If you keep getting cut off beef up leader to 30-40 pound and use long shank hooks. Fun action and a great way to end the day.