Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Spotted Sea Trout season is open and the bite is on

Francoise, kids trip to Florida. Photos by Capt. Pete Rapps

Francoise, kids trip to Florida. Photos by Capt. Pete Rapps

by Capt. Pete Rapps

The Spotted Seatrout (Cynoscion nebulosus), also called Speckled Trout, Specs, Trout, or Spotted Weakfish, is a common shallow water fish found in our area of the Ten Thousand Islands. They are closely related to the northern Weakfish (Cynoscion regalis). Even though most of these fish are caught on shallow grassy flats, Spotted Seatrout reside in virtually any inshore waters, from the outside flats to far up our coastal saltwater rivers, where they often move to for shelter during the colder winter months. Contrary to its name, the Spotted Seatrout is not a member of the trout family (Salmonidae), but actually of the drum family (Sciaenidae) which includes the Atlantic Croaker, Red Drum (Redfish), Black Drum, and Sand Seatrout. As with all members of the drum family, mature males produce a “drumming” sound to attract females during the spawning season.

The average size of these fish in our area is 1-2 lb, but in other areas like northern Florida, Louisiana, and Texas, 5 lb “Gator Trout” are fairly common. The current world record is over 17 lbs. They can be found anywhere from the western Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico, As far north as Massachusetts, all the way down to the Yucatan peninsula. Trout reach sexual maturity by the age of 2 years.

These fish are active most near dawn and dusk, and really like to feed the last hour or two of an incoming flood tide. The most common method for taking trout is by artificial jig with a soft plastic grub, Bucktail type jigs, Berlkey Gulp Shrimp, DOA Shrimp and Baitbusters, and just regular old live shrimp on a popping cork.

Remember, The Ten Thousand

Dustin Rinaldi and Capt. Rapps with a nice Trout.

Dustin Rinaldi and Capt. Rapps with a nice Trout.

Islands are located in the “South Region” and have regulations specific to the region. Currently, each angler can keep 4 Trout. The fish must be larger than 15” but smaller than 20”. Each angler is allowed to have just one fish, within that 4 fish max, over 20”. The measurements are “total length” which means you pinch the tail to determine it’s absolute longest length.

The Spotted Seatrout makes for excellent tablefare with a firm, white meat. Some trout caught may have worms embedded in the flesh. Apparently the worms cannot survive in man even if the Seatrout is eaten raw. The worms can easily be removed when the fish is cleaned to make the meat more appealing. The Spotted Seatrout has an excellent flavor and texture. Remember that care of the fish between landing and the skillet is important. Clean and place your fish on ice as rapidly as possible. The delicate meat of the trout loses quality rapidly if left unchilled, especially during warm weather.

You can find some excellent Trout recipes on my website, both in video format, and in writing with photos at www.CaptainRapps.com. Remember, please only take what you will eat for dinner, let them continue to thrive for generations to come.

Tight Lines, and remember to make someone giggle today!

Capt. Rapps has been fishing the Chokoloskee area for just over 20 years. He offers expert guided, light tackle, near shore, and backwater fishing trips in the Everglades National Park, and is happy to accommodate anyone from novice to hardcore seasoned pro. You can book a charter right online 24/7. See his online availability calendar, booking info, videos, recipes, seasonings, and first class web site at www.CaptainRapps.com.

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