Spotted seatrout — fun to catch and good on the plate
Spotted seatrout remain the consistent catch for anglers fishing the flats around Anna Maria Island. Deeper grass flats during moving tides are producing respectable numbers of trout. I’m noticing an abundance of undersized fish, in fact even more so than slot fish. In one spot we may catch 20 trout and only have four or five fish in the slot. Regardless, trout action is good. Live free-lined shiners seem to be the best bait. The smaller sized ones which we call hatch bait are definitely working better than the larger ones.
To find ample numbers of trout, I’m scouring the flats and search of a few key factors. One is to have a flat where tidal flow is present. Two, is finding grass flats, which dump into the deep sandy potholes, ditches or channels. And the last is making sure you see plenty of schools of bait moving through the area. If you can find these three characteristics in the same place you should be able to find some trout.
While targeting trout, you can also expect to encounter other species — Spanish mackerel, ladyfish, flounder and even mangrove snapper. This variety of species can really round out your fishing experience as well as adding a couple more fish to the cooler.
Lastly, spotted seatrout are typically prone to take the bait this makes them a semi-easy target for both seasoned anglers and the not so experienced ones.
So catchability, great table fare, and good action on light tackle make the spotted seatrout one of the most popular fish on the flats.