A lot of Coastal Anglers who are fortunate enough to be able to fish on a regular basis often manage impressive catches of trout that measure anywhere between 15, and 22 to 23 inches in length.
Yet most of these same anglers probably have never caught more than a few (if any) trout that are larger than that. Some may say the reason behind this is that a lot of anglers, even some of the more seasoned veterans, simply don’t fish where the big trout tend to locate themselves.
Contrary to popular belief, some of the places a lot of us might consider to be good trout water are not always good places to spend your time when you’re looking for your career-best trout. This includes some of the more typical grass flats that are between three and six feet deep
Of course, you could be fortunate enough to stumble upon a big sow moving from one hangout to the next. However, that level of odds probably isn’t worth staking your fishing reputation on. For better results with the larger, trophy-size trout, you must first realize that these larger trout act and react like a completely different family of fish compared to the smaller and less-mature trout.
Make it a point to head for some of the more shallow flats this month. Why? Because once a trout grows to a length of about 22 inches, or longer, it generally prefers very shallow, healthy grass flats for much of the year.
The shallows are attractive to the trout for a few reasons. First, shallow water means protection for the trout. That’s right, natural predators like the dolphin and the shark are unable to get to the trout in the skinny water. Plus, because of their size, larger trout don’t have to fear “death from above.” They are now too big to be scooped up by predator birds such as the pelican and the osprey.
A second reason trout are attracted to the shallows is the water temperature. During colder months of the year, shallow water tends to warm during the day. Consequently, this warming effect invites fish to be drawn out of the depths of darkness and cold.
During the warmer months of the year, the shallow flats cool down at night much more rapidly than neighboring deep water. This also attracts the fish into the shallow water. They will often stay until the heat of the day starts to heat the water until it becomes too hot for them.
A third reason shallow water tends to attract large trout is simply because baitfish are also attracted to the shallows. Common food sources (such as huge mullet) that trophy trout feed upon year-round are attracted to the exact same shallow water areas for the exact same reasons as the trout.
So, next time you’re scouting for your next wading spot of the day and happen to see big, jumping mullet atop a shallow flat, this should be an immediate indicator to you that this location should probably prove to be a great fishing spot. One thing to keep in mind while discovering flats areas that may produce your next record trout is that whenever you begin to think that you are in water that’s too shallow, you probably aren’t shallow enough! The ideal big trout terrain has often proven to be less than one foot in depth. I’ve even heard tales of folks witnessing small birds resting on the exposed backs of big trout and reds sitting in water so skinny that the fish weren’t even fully covered with water.
These big fish can be extremely spooky, and running your boat motor anywhere near them will often send them heading for the nearest hiding place and can quickly scare them to the point to where they may not feed for quite some time. The secret here is to be as sly as you can possibly be – stealth is the key to success. Creep-up slowly on big trout with a good trolling motor or push-pole, whichever one is your choice. Personally, I like wading, but that’s simply my own preference. Just remember, the farther you can keep away from the trout, the better your chances will be. And as one last item, always try to remember the criticality of you being able to lead your cast far in front of the fish so the fish doesn’t hear the splash of your lure – you’re trying to be undetected. Obviously, catching large trout in February can be a challenge, but with some practice and a little understanding, producing “trophy” catches this month can be well within your reach.
Email Chris Martin at [email protected]
or visit bayflatslodge.com