The Best Bait for Sea Trout

Updated February 21, 2017

Speckled sea trout (also called spotted sea trout, specks or weakfish) live in cooler coastal waters --- between 18.3 and 23.9 degrees Celsius --- from New England south to the Gulf of Mexico. Renowned as great fighters, these ambush hunters sometimes follow larger fish and often chase baitfish up from deeper water to the surface. Look for feeding gulls or pelicans and you will likely find sea trout around the periphery of the baitfish, feeding on scraps. Unless fly fishing, use any medium to light action saltwater rod and reel for sea trout ranging from one to three pounds; and although sea trout strike bait and lures enthusiastically, do not set your hook hard, for they have soft mouths that tear easily.

Live Bait

The easier to catch small to medium-sized sea trout love live shrimp. For the more elusive bigger fish, use menhaden (also called pogy), small croakers, killfish --- about the size of an average goldfish --- Cocahoe minnows, small mullet, and ovoid fish such as small pigfish and pinfish. The larger the baitfish, the larger the trout you may hook, and also the harder it will be to catch anything, as large sea trout are wily. Use a No. 5 or 6 hook through the lip or dorsal fin and make sure the baitfish is alive and wriggling.


Whether wade or surf fishing, or casting or trolling from a boat, spoons are often the most effective lures, especially silver spoons. Also effective are Mirr-o-lures (either top-dog or 52-M 18), ripplin redfins, Zara spooks or artificial Cocahoe minnows. When drift fishing --- allowing you line to trail behind an unanchored boat --- try either the plastic Cocahoe minnow or a split-tail beetle. Try to drift your boat over sandy, rocky or shell-covered seafloors and whenever possible fish near oilrigs, as these attract shrimp and baitfish, which in turn attracts sea trout.


While jigging from a boat or pier --- dropping the line straight down, suspended, and pulling up and down on the line --- worm jigs are effective when fished under a popping cork and over a grassy bottom. This is especially effective at night, fishing under lights that draw sea trout. Change your depth, the action of jigging and the colour of your jigs until you find the right combination. The colours white, pink, red-brown and crimson have had good success.


Catching large sea trout on a fly-fishing rig is a challenge, as large fish tend to bite large bait and few flies are large enough to attract them. The colour of the fly does not seem to matter much; what is more important is that the fly resembles the sea trout's usual food. For larger trout, streamer flies and popping bugs are among the most effective, as they resemble small baitfish. The seaducer and Dorsy's Kwan both resemble shrimp and may lure small to medium sea trout. In medium depth and deep waters, the Clouser deep minnow may hook you a redfish or flounder if sea trout are not biting. When fishing shallow water, try Lefty's deceiver, which imitates small baitfish. To mimic a struggling minnow --- a thing that sea trout cannot turn up --- try a Blados crease fly in gold or olive colours.

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About the Author

Tom Wagner began writing for newspapers and magazines in the L.A. area in 2001. With articles appearing in "California Examiner," "World Reporter," the "Philippine Nurses Monitor" and "Famegate Global News," he currently writes for all three Philippine Media publications in Los Angeles, San Diego and Las Vegas. His articles focus on food, social issues, travel, sight-seeing, humor, general information, politics and medical matters.