Fresh From The Salt

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Feature Stories 2011

Volume 2, Issue 3, September 2011: Beach Trout Coastal Passes Produce Big Fish and Big Numbers

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In this issue of FRESH FROM THE SALT, Volume 2, Issue 3, September 2011:  Beach Trout – Coastal Passes Produce Big Fish and Big Numbers, we take a trip out to the beach with Tarpon Springs veteran Captain Trever Meyer and his daughter Lindsey.  This father and daughter angler duo team up to find and catch some of the most aggressive, hungry and healthy trout I’ve ever seen in our home waters. These fish are very pale, almost white, from living the summer months on the beach sand.  They are also commonly very big fish, unlike many of the smaller seatrout we catch in numbers on the shallow water grass flats in the winter time.  No doubt about it, it takes very little time to find these fish and reach your bag limit using small whitebait (scaled sardines).  So the next time you think it’s just too hot to fish during one of those dog days of summer, load up your livewell with bait, chum the beach, and locate these massive schools of trout.  It’s a guaranteed way to keep everyone entertained and fill up the fish box fast.  Then, you’ll have the rest of the day to park your skiff at the island and waste away.

This story is also featured in my monthly column, Angler Xtras, in our local Saltwater Angler Magazine, pg. 18.


Joshua W. Broer (pondfisher)

Beach Trout – Coastal Passes Produce Big Fish and Big Numbers

By Joshua W. Broer

We all know it – it’s HOT!  Some days you can’t stand barefoot on your boat deck, dock, seawall – wherever you might be fishing - without having to hop around in circles with scorched feet.  Ice becomes water in a couple of hours.  Water temps on the flats are bathtub-like.   Pleasure boaters and anglers alike hang up their rods and head for local barrier island beaches for mid-day soaks, ice-cold drinks and the sound of Jimmy Buffett.  No doubt about it, August and September on our coast can sometimes leave you wondering why you decided to fish in the first place.  But for the diehards, they’ll be out there, and there are still fish to be found, and sometimes in numbers.  In this case, big, hungry seatrout.

Most anglers relate to seatrout as winter-time, shallow water, grass flats fish.  And it’s certainly true that you can catch your limit on chilly days in short order.  In the last few years, however, I’ve come to think of trout as a year-round fishery for me.  Ironically, I now consider the dead of summer the very best season.  These fish aren’t on the grass though.  These are beach fish.  They lie in the sand, mostly, occasionally making short treks back and forth between neighboring grass patches.  Because they lie in the sand, these particular fish are much whiter than they appear during the winter months.  And, no doubt about it, these schools hold some of the bigger trout you’ll see during the year.

Many times you’ll find these sand-loving trout right where you caught your bait.  That has been the case the last several times I’ve fished these sometimes massive schools.  The bait this time of year can often be juvenile bait, “net-wreckers” as some cast netters like to refer to them.  This bait, however, can easily be caught in a scaled down cast net mesh size, 1/4 inch in this case, to avoid the tedious task of having to remove hundreds of gilled small baits.  This size bait, luckily, is perfect for the job at hand.  Unlike monster snook who love nothing but the biggest pieces of whitebait, these smaller size sardines make for great live chumming and perfect for fishing trout.

Although it’s not necessary to live chum in order to find these beach trout, if you do have enough bait, toss a handful out there and see what happens.  More often than not, you’ll be treated to an explosion of aggressive trout crashing these baits with such force that many of them get popped straight out of the water.  It can become a frenzy that leaves you so excited you can barely manage to get a bait on your hook.  Be careful not to overchum – meaning, don’t overfeed these fish.  Just throw enough chummers out there to get them in the mood.  Put your baited hook in the middle of that mayhem and it’s on!

Fishing for beach trout, I’ve discovered, is the perfect cure for these blistering hot summer days.  Get out there early, grab some live bait, fish until you’ve had enough, then head to the island.  It’s like having your cake and eating it too, as they say.  You’ll have all the rod-bending action you need for the day, leaving the rest of the day for island time.  This is especially true for those days when you have the kids on the boat, kids who might want to be tubing rather than fishing.  It can truly be an attitude adjuster for everyone when it comes to shallow water fishing in the summer.  Nobody gets bored with a non-stop bite.  Find these schooled up fish and you’ll have your limit of big, strong, healthy seatrout in no time at all.