I moved to the Tampa Bay area in 1997. I grew up fishing in lakes and ponds in North Georgia but when I got to Florida and someone introduced me to snook fishing, I was instantly hooked. My favorite way to catch them was by fishing the beaches for them with really big grunts (aka pigfish). I would spend an hour or two before snook fishing to catch these grunts then head to the beach.
It wasn't long into my new snook addiction that I learned just how big a bait that speckled sea trout will eat. Wow... I started catching speckled sea trout on 8" grunts! They were so hungry for them that it seemed like it didn't matter how big a bait I used, they would try to eat them. Many times I would reel in a big trout and the bait it was trying to eat was so big that it could only get half the bait into its mouth!
I had done a good deal of speckled trout fishing on vacations to the Georgia coast and a good bit of trout fishing before getting addicted to snook. My previous beliefs about the bait I should be using for trout was that you should use smaller baits, like shrimp and small jigs. But after that one summer snook fishing, where the trout kept annihilating my big snook baits, I began to reconsider.
After 20 years of fishing saltwater in Florida for speckled sea trout, I have come to the conclusion that you'd be hard-pressed to present a bait big enough for a big trout to turn it down. Here are my top 3 favorite big trout baits.
#3 She Dog 83MR Surface Walker
It's only 4 inches long but that doesn't fully describe the size of this lure. It's a big, fat, loud, trout catching machine. Used early in the morning or late in the evening with a "walk the dog" action, it can draw explosive surface strikes.
#2 Paul Brown's Fat Boy Suspending Twitchbait
This is truly a "fat" bait. It's got a soft plastic body but it is shaped like a suspending hard bait. Use it with a "twitch, twitch, pause" action and wait for the "thump" on the pause.
#1 5-6" Live Scaled Sardine (live bait)
If you really want to catch a monster trout, there's nothing better. Throw it out there and watch it come racing to the surface trying to get away from a big, hungry, trout. Make sure to let the fish take the bait for a bit before sinking the hook into the trout. A lot of times, with a big live bait like this, they will snag it with their 2 front teeth and hang on for a bit before trying to actually swallow it.
If you have some pics of some big trout, we'd love to see them on our Facebook page. Let us know what your favorite big bait is for big speckled sea trout!