The Gill Wetter "Your Local Fishing News"
by Capt. Matt Wirt
Gray trout, weakfish, or sea trout, there are many
names for this species. I call them day savers. When the fall
northeast wind is howling offshore and the flounder or reds dont
want to cooperate inshore, the gray trout are usually a sure thing.
These structure oriented fish provide excellent action and are
great table fare. The gray trout is an aggressive species and
will hit a variety of lures and live baits. Here are some tips
and techniques that will hopefully save your day as well.
The typical size of the gray trout in our area range
from 12 inches (a 2 year old fish), up to some near 25 inches
(an 8-9 year old fish). These trout grow rapidly and the average
life span is 9 years. For a fish of this size I prefer a 7
ultra light action rod with 15 lb braided line. The ultra light
rod makes it much more challenging and seems to result in a greater
hookup ratio. These fish are often called weakfish due to their
weak mouths. The lighter tackle with a light drag puts less pressure
on the fishs jaw and you get to experience the full capabilities
of this nice fighting species.
Gray trout are opportunistic feeders. They are structure
oriented and dont travel far to hunt their prey, instead
they position themselves around structure and sit back and wait
for the prey to come to them. They prefer near shore wrecks or
live bottom areas such as Johns Creek or AR-378. When I
am fishing an area of live bottom I prefer to drift and cover
more ground. If we are targeting the structure I like to anchor
up wind or beside the wreck where the current will allow me to
present my bait or lure in front of, or beside the base of the
wreck. Anchoring in the deeper offshore waters can be challenging
to say the least. It might take two or three sets of the anchor,
but you will be rewarded when it is executed properly.
The weakfish is not a very picky eater. The larger
fish will consume mullet, menhaden, small croakers, pinfish, and
other baitfish. The smaller ones stick to shrimp, small crabs,
and clams or scallops on the ocean floor. The gray will
feed throughout the entire water column. I suggest having both
live bait and artificial lures when targeting the grays.
When using live bait I prefer medium finger mullet on a Carolina
rig with a number two hook, and just enough weight to get it to
the bottom. We use 20lb Berkley Vanish fluorocarbon leader, it
does a great job without breaking the bank. I have found that
I can use a much lighter leader when using fluorocarbon verses
mono because the fluorocarbon has a much harder coating and it
is much more resistant to abrasion. As for lures, we have been
using a product called Gulp that is made by Berkley with excellent
results. This product breaks down little by little in the water
and leaves an excellent sent trail. The 3 or 4 white
curly tail grub they produce seems to be the best so far. When
targeting Gray Trout with curly tail grubs it is very important
to use a Gitzem jig head. These jig heads make your grub come
alive! Instead of the normal up and down motion of most jig heads
the Gitzem jig head goes side to side due to its unique design.
This keeps your lure in the strike zone much longer and drives
the trout crazy! I have also had success with sting silvers as
well, with pink or white being the best color. 20 lb fluorocarbon
leader works great for the jigs as well. Jig the artificals
with your wrist and not your entire arm. This will increase your
hookup ratio and will prevent tearing the hook out of their weak
mouth. The trout will usually bite on the fall, and you should
have an automatic hook set on your next jig stroke. Upon hook
set, reel quickly five or ten times to get them away from the
structure then back off and play it as easy as possible until
they reach the net to avoid tearing the hook out of their weak
August to mid December seems to produce the best
results and the early spring months are great producers as well.
I prefer a water temp between 55 and 75 degrees when targeting
the grays. When caught they should be iced as soon as possible.
They have very tender flesh, are easily filleted and are great
when fried. When targeting the grays positioning is everything.
If you are ten feet to far from the structure you might not get
a bite. Its all or nothing. Good luck and hopefully this
will put you in position to put some nice grays in the boat,
and remember to leave a few out there for the next guy.
Capt. Matt Wirt