Speckled sea trout have long been a favorite of many anglers along Florida's west coast. Sea trout are easier to find, not as difficult to catch and eat just about anything thrown at them. Large "gator trout" or "yellowmouth" are starting to move into shallow water. Look for them swimming among mullet in the flats. I have been able to fill the well full of scaled sardines despite all of the windy conditions. I watch my bottom machine and look for clouds of bait right off the bottom. I then idle upcurrent and upwind to throw my 12-foot cast net so it will sink into the cloud, hoping to trap the bait. Sometimes I'm done in one throw, other times I have to throw the net several times to fill the well. A large cast net can be hard to throw, so I learned to use the three-part method. If throwing a cast net is not your thing, then stop at a bait shop and buy a few dozen select-sized shrimp. Use a popping cork to keep the baits out of the grass. To locate fish quickly, use a jig rigged with a soft-plastic tail. You can work a lot of area to find fish, then switch to live bait to catch the larger gator trout. Low tides in the morning force me to start working the edges of flats. These edges have deeper grass flats, which have enough water and provide cover until the tide comes in. Once the tide floods in, I target sandy potholes, working the edges of the holes where fish are waiting to ambush baits.
Rob Gorta charters out of St. Petersburg. Call him at (727) 647-7606 or visit captainrobgorta.com.