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April 08, 2010

Trophy Sea Trout Hang With Redfish

Looking for gator sea trout in the Gulf of Mexico? Follow the redfish.


Joe Mahler / www.markerjockey.com

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Capt. Steve Jones has been guiding clients on Florida Panhandle waters in and around Pensacola for nearly 30 years. Jones occasionally finds big trout lurking among redfish and agrees that trophy trout may take advantage of dining reds.

"Feeding redfish schools tend to nose bait up from the bottom (1)," says Jones. However, he has found that those reds generally stay lower in the water column, while the trout can be enticed readily with surface lures (2). "I like to throw topwaters, especially Storm's Rattlin' Chug Bug," he says. "I like lures that make a commotion." A stealthy and careful approach is critical, though. "I like to stop my boat at least 100 yards away (3) and use the wind and current to my advantage," he says. "On calm days, I generally will use a push pole. If I have to use my trolling motor, I run it slow and intermittently." Avoid common boat noises like bumps and squeaks of hatches, and keep your feet quiet when you cast. Catch-and-release is paramount to Jones, and he likes to customize his lures, swapping trebles for single hooks and beefing up his split rings. "Trebles catch well but have a propensity to hurt fish - the single hooks enable quick, safe releases," he explains.

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Joe Mahler / www.markerjockey.com

When redfish are on the move, plowing through schools of bait aggressively and quickly, look for trout - and often large trout - following at the rear of the school, picking off the scattered and confused baitfish.

Fishing up and down the coast of Texas, Capt. Ed Hix of Houston has had success in the TroutMasters tournament series, as well as in the FLW Redfish and Redfish Cup tours. "I have fished several big schools of redfish, specifically targeting trophy trout - when you find them together, it is possible to find trout up to 8 pounds," Hix says. He has spent many years honing his big-trout skills in Texas' pristine waters and believes that when schools of redfish are aggressively feeding, they will move quickly through areas (1) , gorging on and disrupting schools of baitfish. "I really believe that when seatrout hang with those reds, they are picking up the stragglers (2) - the spoils of war," he says. Using his trolling motor and keeping his eyes peeled on mud boils, Hix will position his boat just behind a school - within casting range. "My trolling motor is crucial," he says, "as I usually try to stay within casting distance of those fresh boils created by the redfish - many times trophy trout can be found right in and behind those. If I were primarily pursuing redfish, I would position my boat on the outskirts or up and ahead of the lead fish, but seeking to fool a really big trout, I will stay toward the back of the school (3) ." Perhaps a "good" problem is that anglers will have to catch and release a slew of redfish before seducing that one hefty yellow-mouth.

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