SPECKLED TROUT ON JERKBAITS - Plus a wide variety of other species

Today we started off with my favorite inshore fish, Sheepshead. I knew we had a few hours of incoming tide in the morning so we hit one of my incoming tide spots first. The Convicts weren't biting at all so next we hit the Little Jetties. Again, not a sniff by anything. Next we headed for the Inlet. We picked up a few right away but, before long, the bite turned off with the slack tide. Next, we decided to change things up and checked to see if the Porgies were in the Inlet yet. They were and we caught a dozen or so before the water turned too dirty to target them. We started to pull the anchor and long story short, it's still in the rocks.... Figures.... With no Jetty anchor, we had to make a decision, do something different or call it a day. We decided to take advantage of the trolling motor and throw some lures for Trout.

We headed up river and soon we were in position to work our first flat. I broke out the new Ultralight I got for Christmas(I know, early:)) and tied on a pearl white, Repala XRap. At first my buddy Chip went with a soft plastic fluke, rigged weedless. We worked the first stretch of bank and got little to no action at all. I kept using the XRap and Chip went through a few other lures as we continued on. Eventually, we reach a spot where I'm hooking up pretty consistently. Chips getting some action on the Fluke but not near the action I was getting. Eventually, he ties on an XRap he happened to have. His was orange and yellow. Before long, we're either hooking up or getting hit on every cast. Not the schoolie fish at 14 to 16 inches but 18 to 22 inches. Long story short, we managed at a minimum, 50 Trout, most over 17 inches. Many were well over 18. We had our limit in probably less than 30 minutes. We continued hammering them in hopes of finding an elusive, monster Trout but, couldn't pull it off. We did hook into 2 monster Bull Reds on the same XRaps. Mine broke off a hook at the boat and Chips was landed. His Red fully engulfed that lure! It was way back in the fishes crushers. Chip was stoked as this was his biggest Red caught by an artificial bait.

I've always been partial to hard plastic lures over soft plastics. Not because they are any better, but because they offer a way around shallow, snaggy bottom. Which coincidentally, are areas that Trout haunt. I like that I can focus on the action of the retrieve and not worry about the depth my lure is working. I typically cast an XRap in water between 3 and 8 feet. Any shallower and I'll throw a Miradine or a smaller, Yozuri Crystal Minnow. Crystal Minnows have a shorter nose and dive a foot or so less than the XRap. When you're fishing rocky bottom, it's good to have an assortment of productive suspending lures that travel at different depths.

Far as retrieving a jerkbait, I pretty much give two twitches and pause. The length of the pause varies but I start off with a short one and repeat the sequence. If nothing bites, I'll give a longer pause. Today the fish started off going for the short pause strike. Eventually, the bite stopped. I switched over to a longer pause and immediately started catching Trout again. The duration of the pause definitely matters. If the water is cold and the fish are lethargic, I'll go with a much longer pause. As long as 8 seconds depending on the bait. XRaps ascend very slowly which is great when dealing with a lethargic Trout or Red Fish. The less horizontal movement, the better. They'll turn away if the bait is too aggressive.

There are so many options out there guys. Black Drum are still in the Inlet, Sheepshead are here albeit, scattered and somewhat difficult to find. The Trout bite is about as good as anyone could ask for. Both Specks and Yellow Mouth. The Yellow Mouth aren't as large as we were getting the past couple of weeks but, they're still around and in good numbers. The Porgies are showing up in the Inlet. By next month they will start spawning and the larger, mature fish will be thick on the Big Jetty tips. Slot Reds are all over the Inlet and last but not least, big Green Heads. Keeper Black Sea Bass are always fruitful in the Inlet during the winter. Hit the 80 foot troughs with Shrimp and Blue Crab and save some fuel. Lots of options fellas, get after em!


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