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Slot limit of not less than 15" and not more than 20" in the Northeast and South regions and not less than 15" and not more than 24" in the Northwest Region; closed season is November and December in the South region, February in the Northwest region, and December through February in the Northeast region; 5 per person per day limit in the South and Northeast regions; 7 per person per day limit in the Northwest Region; may possess one fish over the maximum size limit. South region is from Volusia-Flagler county line southward along the Atlantic and from the Pinellas-Pasco County line southward along the Gulf coast. Northeast region is waters north of the Volusia-Flagler county line. Northwest region is waters north and west of the Pinellas-Pasco County line.
If you wanted to nickname a fish the "comeback kid" the spotted seatrout would be the leading candidate. Until two years ago, the numbers of trout being caught was on the decline. But, on July 1, 1995, Florida's newest constitutional amendment took effect and most commercial nets were banned form the state's coastal waters. Since then there has been a renaissance in trout fishing. Anglers report catching the fish on a year round basis and in more numbers than previous years.
Spotted seatrout spawn from spring through the summer in the estuaries along both coasts. As juveniles, the fish live secret lives hidden among sea grass beds. Once they mature, the fish seldom move far from where they spawned. Females live for 6-8 years and males live 5-8 years.
Trout are found throughout the state except they become scarce from Lake Worth to Miami and in the lower Florida Keys. A lack of estuarine habitat in these areas accounts for the rarity of the fish.
Tackle and Techniques
Light spinning or bait-casting tackle with 6-12 pound test line and 20 pound test monofilament leader is sufficient. The best place to find trout is in the sea grass beds. You can cast while drifting across a grass flat or troll using an electric trolling motor.
A live shrimp or baitfish bait rigged to a line with a popping cork is the number one method for trout fishing. Jigs tipped with a small piece of shrimp and gold spoons are very effective artificial baits. Weedless varieties are desirable when you fish in the sea grass.
Secrets to Success
* This species segregates itself by size. When you encounter a congregation of trout, chances are real good they will all be within an inch or two of each other. If they are too small, move on and look for the bigger ones.
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