Gator Trout Offer Hot Action In Cooler Weather

Winter in the Gulf of Mexico sees an inshore aggregation of large “gator” seatrout, which brings some of the most impressive fish into reach for anglers in boats or kayaks, as well as those dressed in thermal waders. These big fish dine on just about any crustacean or finfish they can catch, but don’t hesitate to bring a selection of LIVETARGET lures to the party. Here are four ways to achieve real success with artificial baits.

Topwaters: Big trout typically target big meals and mullet are one of their favorites. A schooling fish that often roams the inshore shallows where gator trout hunt, mullet commonly swim right at surface, so a LIVETARGET Hollow Body Mullet does a great job of replicating a look big trout are used to seeing.

Your favorite topwater walking bait retrofitted with Mustad Jaw-Lok Inline Treble Hooks will also tempt big, aggressive trout. The key with both of these options is to make long casts past where you think the fish may be and slowly walk your bait into the strike zone.

Strategy tip: While big trout prey on the juvenile “finger” mullet, they’ll often swim among schools of adult mullet. As these lumbering vegetarians rumble across the inshore shallows, they stir up the bottom and displace crabs, shrimp, and baitfish.

Opportunistic trout are quick to pick off the freebies, so working a topwater bait along the edges of a mullet school may yield a massive blow up. Be careful to avoid spooking the mullet with a bomb cast right into the school, or the opportunity is over.

Swimbait: Big trout tend to do their best topwater hunting at daybreak and during dim conditions. Once brighter skies push them lower in the water column, you’ll often fool them with one of LIVETARGET’s highly realistic swimbaits. Depending on area and local forage, anything from a mullet, to a sardine, to a menhaden design could work.

As for retrieves, slow and steady is best, but occasional pauses and twitches might help close the deal — especially if you spot a follower.

Soft Plastics: Experienced trout anglers keep a variety of swimbaits, paddle tails, and jerkbaits handy for rigging on the Mustad Shad/Darter Jig Head or Inshore Darter Jig Head. Keep the weights minimal for shallow waters — typically, 1/8- to 3/16-ounce will do the job.

Twitching, or hopping, or swimming these bait along the bottom and through the water column will deliver. If the bite is tough, add a fingernail-sized piece of shrimp on the jig hook.

Popping Cork Rigs: Those jigs and soft plastics will also appeal to big trout when suspended beneath a popping cork rig. Made for noise and gurgling disturbance, popping corks attached to the main line, or cork rigs with the float, along with rattling beads, mounted on a wire stem mimic the sound of feeding fish. Interested trout that respond to the commotion view the bait below as easy pickings.

Along with the jig and soft plastic option, one of the most enticing baits for trout — and most any saltwater species — is the LIVETARGET Rigged Shrimp. An easy sell in just about any conditions, hanging this ultra-realistic crustacean imitator below your popping cork is as close to a can’t-miss as you’ll get.


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