Angler Releases Monster Gator Seatrout in Florida

A bass tournament angler took a busman's holiday to fish Mosquito Lagoon and struck gold.

Joey Bloom with gator seatrout
Florida’s Mosquito Lagoon has a history of producing monster seatrout, but major water quality issues in the past decade have devastated seatrout populations. On a recent trip, Joey Bloom hooked this bona fide gator. Courtesy Joey Bloom

Winter Springs, Florida, residents Joey Bloom and his lifelong fishing buddy Jake Harris, both 21, were fishing the south end of Mosquito Lagoon late last June. It was a real get-a-way for Bloom, who is a rising star in the tournament bass fishing world, and he was looking forward to some fun fishing.

“Jake is a top saltwater fisherman, and he knew where the fish were that morning when we launched his Gheenoe and headed out into the Lagoon,” says Bloom. “It was calm, the water like liquid glass, and I put on a topwater plug and started a zig-zag retrieve with baitcasting tackle.”

On his third cast the water blew up, his plug disappeared, and a heavy fish took off.

“It was so strong, and took so much line and drag, I just knew it was a redfish,” says Bloom. “There were mullet baitfish all around and redfish were smashing them and pushing them into the shallows. So, I figured it had to be a red I hooked.”

Bloom leaned into the fish, and told Harris it was a giant, as it took 50 yards of line, staying deep and pulling hard against the Gheenoe.

“It never jumped the whole fight, and we both figured it was a nice redfish until we got it beside the boat,” Bloom remembers. “I couldn’t believe the size of it. I’d never seen a trout that big.”

But a trout it was, and the anglers measured it at 31 inches long, with a 15.5-inch girth. After a few photos holding the mega seatrout up, Bloom successfully released the lively trout, and the pair of anglers went back to fishing.

They stayed with topwater plugs in the shallows of Mosquito Lagoon, and caught redfish after redfish, good-size trout and then a couple tarpon.

“That area can be a hit-or-miss spot,” says Bloom. “But that day the fish were on fire. I’ve ever seen anything like it — they were everywhere. I caught another big trout that measured 28.5 inches. Yes, we released it too. And later we fished a little deeper water and caught tarpon on soft plastic paddle tails.”

Bloom’s big trout – called a “gator” among Florida coastal anglers – was released without an official weight. But various trout length-girth formulas guesstimate the fish weighed more than 10 pounds. His 28.5-inch trout was a gator, too, estimated at 8 pounds.

“With so many big fish, and lots of bait, we were glad to see so much action on Mosquito Lagoon because there have been some major grass bed and water quality problems here,” says Bloom. “We even saw some places where grass beds are starting to grow back. Grass wasn’t everywhere, but it was growing, and that is a great sign that things may be getting better for fish and fishermen.”

More News