Capt. Ethan Hamrick
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How to Catch Spotted Seatrout (Like A Pro)

Spotted seatrout, also known as speckled seatrout, are highly targeted inshore fish. They are one of the most beautiful inshore species, as they have black spots running along their sides and back.

Spotted seatrout occupy the coastlines along the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean. Although they don’t get huge and don’t fight super hard, these fish are still very fun to target. They can be caught so many different ways, making them a perfect species for young children and beginner anglers to target.

Where to Target Spotted Seatrout

Spotted seatrout spend the majority of their time cruising shallow grass and sand flats looking for their next meal. They love hiding in thick patches of grass because it helps them camouflage themselves from potential predators. These fish are generally pretty easy to find.

If anglers can locate a grass flat with some sand mixed in, they will most likely catch some seatrout.

A few of the best areas to for anglers to consistently catch spotted seatrout include:

When I target spotted seatrout, I am usually fishing a large flat of grass in open water. I like to start on the outside of the flat and work my way shallower until I figure out where most of the fish are set up.

I look for holes in the grass and patches of sand, as these areas may be holding high numbers of fish. Spotted seatrout travel in large schools most of the time, so if anglers catch one, there are likely many more fish in the area.

Best Live Bait for Seatrout

For anglers who prefer to use live bait for spotted seatrout, some of the best live baits include: 

  • Shrimp
  • Pinfish
  • Greenbacks
  • Threadfins
  • Sardines

If I’m live bait fishing for seatrout, I either freeline my bait without a weight, or I put a popping cork or bobber above it. When I freeline, it allows the bait to swim free in and around the cover you’re fishing.

However, if the bait is getting stuck in grass, placing a bobber 2-3 feet above it allows the bait to stay out of the cover. A 1/0 or 2/0 circle hook is what I generally use for live bait when seatrout fishing.

Best Artificial Lures for Seatrout

Many anglers, including myself, prefer to target spotted seatrout with artificial lures. Artificial lures often catch more fish than live bait and allow anglers to be much more efficient. There are a wide range of lures that will catch seatrout.

Some of my favorites include:

Topwater baits are my favorite lure to use for seatrout fishing. Some of the biggest spotted seatrout I’ve ever caught have come on a topwater lure. Large seatrout are oftentimes more likely to strike a big topwater bait than smaller trout.

Walking baits, such as a zara spook, are excellent surface lures for targeting big seatrout. Bone, silver, and chartreuse are a few of my favorite colors. These baits allow anglers to cover water and be efficient and work best in lowlight conditions.

I also like throwing soft plastic baits when targeting spotted seatrout. Soft plastic jerkbaits, paddletail swimbaits and shrimp all work great and come through cover well. That makes them ideal for fishing over grass flats and around boat docks.

Natural colors seem to work best when it comes to all soft plastic lures. I typically rig swimbaits and imitator shrimp on a ¼-½ ounce red or chartreuse jighead. I prefer rigging the soft plastic jerkbaits on a 3/0 weighted EWG hook.

Hard jerkbaits are another lure I like to apply if I’m fishing water that’s over 4 feet. I prefer fishing it fairly quickly over the top of grass flats. Trout often react to this lure well and strike it very aggressively. Any type of baitfish pattern is a good option when jerkbait fishing for seatrout.

Best Gear for Seatrout Fishing

I like using light tackle when I’m fishing for spotted seatrout. These fish don’t fight super hard, so the lighter the gear the more fun they are to catch. I prefer a 7’ medium action rod paired to a 1000 to 2500 sized reel. I’ll spool it with 10-pound braided line and tie a 15-20 pound fluorocarbon leader to the braid.

Back to You

Thank you so much for taking the time to read about my favorite ways to target spotted seatrout. Be sure to give some of these techniques a try if you ever find yourself inshore fishing and targeting seatrout.

Whether you’re a bank or wade fisherman, kayak or paddleboard angler, or fish out of a flats or bay boat, all anglers can enjoy catching spotted seatrout. Use google earth to help locate nearby grass and sand flats. It will help you narrow down where you want to fish and make the most of your time. 

As always, happy fishing and keep your hooks wet!


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