Spinner Fishing for Trout – a Complete Guide

Spinner Fishing for Trout – a Complete Guide

The topic of this article is spinner fishing for trout. Spinners are very effective freshwater fishing lures, particularly in streams and rivers, which is where the majority of trout live.

spinner fishing for trout

Spinner fishing for trout is very productive. Spinners are very simple, yet effective trout fishing lures. They consist of a wire arm with a body that has a blade that rotates around it. A hook, often dressed, is on the tail. Spinners put out flash and vibration, which mimics a wounded bait fish. Rainbow trout, brown trout, and brook trout are the most popular trout species.

Spinner fishing for trout

There are several reasons for the productivity of spinners when fishing for trout. The majority of trout are caught in running water; creeks, streams, and rivers. Spinners are the most effective when used in these waters. The current provides action and movement while also resulting in the spinner blade rotating. All of this occurs with very little action by the angler.

best 13 brown trout fishing lures

Many lures act very erratically. This imitates wounded prey and attracts game fish. However, in many instances this action is too aggressive for trout. Trout normally prefer a more subtle presentation as opposed to excessive action. Spinners emit flash and vibration, but they do so in a much more subdued manner than many other lures. This is another reason that spinners are so effective when fishing for trout.

Spinner fishing techniques

Perhaps the most appealing aspect of spinner fishing for trout and other species is the ease with which it is done. Fishing with spinners is fairly easy and straight forward. That makes spinner fishing an excellent choice for novice anglers.

best trout tackle

In most situations, less is more when it comes to spinner fishing for trout. As mentioned earlier, the current from the stream will result in the spinner blade rotating. All that the angler needs to do is keep the line tight and allow the current to provide the action to the lure.

The best technique is to cast the spinner directly across the current, or slightly downstream. This will result in the line staying tight during the entire cast. Often times, the take occurs as the spinner reaches the end of the drift and ‘swings” in the current. The spinner will hold in that area for a few moments. This will often draw a strike. This is along the same lines as fly anglers “swinging a nymph”.

Read more about the best trout fishing lure

A slow, steady retrieve is almost always the most productive retrieve. As long as the blade is rotating and flashing, the lure is moving fast enough. This is true in lakes as well as flowing water. Anglers can add a twitch or pause occasionally if the bite is slow. However, it is best not to overdo this action.

trout fishing with streamers

One issue when fishing with spinners is that line twist can occur. The solution to this problem is to use a tiny swivel, often termed a “micro swivel”. THe swivel is tied to the running line. Then, a 2 leader that is 24″ to 30″ long connects the swivel to the lure. This will greatly reduce line twist when using spinners.

Spinner fishing for trout in lakes

While most anglers spinner fishing for trout will do so in moving water, lakes hold plenty of trout as well. Lakes provide one major challenge; trout are much more difficult to locate as there is so much more water in which to search. Also, anglers have the third dimension of where in the water column trout are feeding. Trout are much easier to locate in streams

rainbow trout fishing lures

Anglers trout fishing in lakes, especially smaller bodies of water, can successfully fish for trout with spinners from shore. Heavier spinners such as the Blue Fox or Panther Martin work well. The spinner can be fished at different depths by varying the time that the lure is allowed to fall through the water column. As in stream fishing, a slow steady retrieve is best.

Trolling is an extremely effective technique used by anglers spinner fishing for trout. This technique allows anglers to cover a lot of water as well as different depths all at one time. Multiple lines can be put out at varying depths. Trout often feed high in the water column, so trolling spinners at depths from 5 feet to 15 feed down is a good approach. Heavier spinners will get down deep enough on their own without any added weight.

Choosing the best spinner for trout fishing

While all spinners basically work the same, there are some differences that make one a better choice than others. Light spinners are best for small, shallow streams. Heavier spinners are better in larger rivers with deeper holes as well as for fishing in lakes. These are better for trolling as well.

trout fishing

Color is also a consideration when spinner fishing for trout. The same rules when it comes to fishing with artificial lures apply to anglers spinner fishing for trout. On bright, sunny days, lighter colors and silver blades are usually the best choice. Conversely, in low light conditions and cloudy days, gold blades and bright bodies are the most productive.

The top 4 spinners for trout fishing are;

  • Worden’s Original Rooster Tail spinner

  • Mepps Aglia spinner

  • Blue Fox Vibrax spinner

  • Panther Martin spinner

Anglers can read more about the best freshwater fishing spinners in this article by Capt Jim

The best spinners for trout fishing are the Worden’s Rooster tail spinner, Mepps Aglia spinner, Blue Fox spinner, and Panther Martin spinner. These 4 spinners will cover every situation that an anglers trout fishing with spinners will encounter.

Worden’s Original Rooster Tail spinner

rooster tail

The Worden’s Original Rooster Tail spinner is a terrific trout fishing lure. It is Capt Jim’s favorite trout fishing spinner. Rooster Tail spinners are very light. This makes them an excellent choice for anglers fishing in creeks and small streams. They will snag much less often than other heavier lures. However, they cast well on ultralight spinning gear.

Rooster Tail spinners come in several sizes and many different color combinations. The 1/16 ounce size is excellent for most stream trout fishing applications. Bright colored bodies with gold blades work well in a variety of situations. Anglers should have a few that are white with a silver blade as well. These lures are also available in single hook models, which are required in some “catch and release” waters.

Mepps Aglia spinner


Mepps is a well known and trusted brand when it comes to fishing spinners. They have been catching trout and other species for decades. The classic color combination is gold with the natural hair tail. Mepps spinners have earned a reputation for catching larger trout. Mepps spinners are an excellent all round choice for a variety of trout fishing situations.

Blue Fox Vibrax spinner

blue fox spinner

The Blue Fox Vibrax spinner has a loyal following among anglers spinner fishing for trout. It emits a unique vibration that calls in fish. These spinners are a bit heavier and a better choice for anglers fishing deeper streams and rivers as well as lakes. It is available in many sizes and colors. The size 1 blade weighs 1/8 ounce and is an excellent all round choice.

Panther Martin spinner

panther martin

Panther Martin spinners are the final spinner in this list of the best trout fishing spinners. They come in several different styles and many colors. The options are endless. Panther Martin spinners are also fairly dense and heavy, making them a better choice for deeper water. Panther Martin spinners are also available in single hook versions.

Best rod and reel when spinner fishing for trout

Ultralight spinning outfits are by far the best choice for anglers spinner fishing for trout. Many of the most effective spinners are quite light. This requires fairly light gear in order to cast them effectively. Conventional tackle is simply too heavy. Also, most trout are modest in size. Spin cast gear (closed face) can be used, but it has it’s limitations.

brook trout fishing lures

A 6” light action rod with a 1000 series reel is an excellent all around trout fishing rod and reel combination. A soft action rad is best for casting these lures as well as landing a nice trout on light line.

Anglers should use very light line when using spinners for trout. 2 pound test line will draw a lot of strikes, but might be a tad light for some anglers. 4 pound test will work fine in most situations. Flourocarbon line is expensive, but is a good investment. Monofilament will work fine as well. Braided line is too visible and the stretch is actually desired.

brook trout fishing lures

Spinner fishing will produce other species as well

While trout are perhaps the primary target for anglers fishing with spinners, many other species will take this lure as well. In slightly warmer trout streams, smallmouth bass are present in decent numbers. Cold water species including pike, walleye, panfish, and even musky will take a spinner meant for trout.

Smallmouth bass

smallmouth bass fishing

Smallmouth bass are the most commonly caught non-trout species caught by anglers spinner fishing for trout. This is due to the fact that they inhabit many of the same rivers and lakes and can tolerate fairly chilly water. Smallmouth will usually be found in areas of less current than will trout. They will readily take a spinner in both moving water and lakes.


rock bass fishing tips and tackle

Surprisingly, some species of panfish thrive in waters that support trout. Rock bass in particular live in the streams that have trout species. These are a very aggressive fish that will take spinners and other lures. Yellow perch do well in some cold water streams. Crappie will be caught in some trout lakes as well. Even bluegill and bass will be found in these waters, although in lesser numbers. Panfish are more plentiful in the southern waters where trout are stocked in good numbers.

Northern pike

best northern pike fishing lure

Northern pike flourish in cold waters, just as trout do. Pike do not like fast moving water and are more often found in shallow, weedy lakes. Trout will occasionally be caught there as well. The challenge is landing a pike on very light line with no leader.


walleye fishing tackle and lures

Walleye feed in cold water and are found in the same areas as trout. Anglers trolling for trout in particular will produce the odd walleye or two. Walleye will be found in larger rivers as well.

In conclusion, this article on spinner fishing for trout will help anglers have success using these effective lures.






Surf Fishing for Striped Bass – Pro Tips!

Surf Fishing for Striped Bass – Pro Tips!

This article will thoroughly cover surf fishing for striped bass. Striped bass are the most popular inshore saltwater species from South Carolina to New England.

surf fishing for striped bass

Surf fishing for striped bass is a very popular sport that takes place all along the East coast of the United States. Striped bass, Morone saxatilis, are the most targeted species for anglers surf fishing the coastal beaches. Specialized tackle and techniques are used to hook them!

striped bass

Special thanks to Erica and Paulie for the great pics and technical details. Anglers can follow their adventures on their YouTube Channel, Get Reel Bass Fishing. as well as their website.

Surf fishing may seem like a pretty basic fishing technique where anglers simply stand on the beach and cast out into the ocean. However, this is far from the reality. Surf fishing is very nuanced; little changes and tactics make a big difference in angling success. All of the information needed to go surf fishing with striped bass will be in this article.

striped bass

Anglers can purchase Capt Jim’s E-book, “Inshore Saltwater Fishing” for $5 by clicking on the title link. It is 23,000 words long and covers tackle, tactics, and species.

Striped bass surf fishing tackle

Anglers surf fishing for striped bass will need some specialized equipment. The main difference is the length of the fishing rods. Long rods are required in order to make long casts as well as keeping the line up over the breaking waves. Spinning tackle is mostly used and is the best choice for anglers new to the sport. Experienced anglers use conventional tackle with great success.

surf fishing

Two different rod and reel combinations will be required to efficiently go surf fishing for striped bass. The requirements for both types of fishing are a bit different. One is for casting artificial lures and the other for casting heavy natural baits. The outfit for casting lures will usually be a bit lighter than the heavier outfit for casting cut baits.

Best rod and reel for casting lures

surf fishing

Anglers casting lures need an outfit heavy enough to handle heavy lures while being light enough to cast repeatedly. The best rod and reel combination for surf fishing for striped bass is a 10 foot rod paired with a 6000 series reel and spooled up with 30 pound braided fishing line. This outfit will allow anglers to cast lures without getting exhausted while still handling the heavier lures and big surf. If anglers only want to purchase one surf fishing rod and reel, this would be a perfect combination.

Erica and Paulie highly recommend a 10 foot Tsunami Airwave Elite rod paired with a Penn Spinfisher 6 5500 spooled reel spooled up with 30lb braid. This outfit has served them well, especially for casting artificial lures.

Click links to shop Amazon for Tsunami rods and Penn reels

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Best rod and reel for bait fishing for striped bass in the surf

surf fishing for striped bass

Anglers casting natural baits, either live or cut, will require slightly different tackle. A heavier, longer rod is used to cast heavy baits and sinkers up to 8 ounces. However, many fewer casts will be made as once cast out the rod is held or put in a rod holder. Constantly casting a heavy rig would quickly tire most anglers out.

Anglers can purchase Capt Jim’s E-book, “Inshore Saltwater Fishing” for $5 by clicking on the title link. It is 23,000 words long and covers tackle, tactics, and species.

striped bass fishing

The best rod and reel combination for surf fishing for striped bass with bait is a 13-15 foot rod, 8000 series reel, and 40 pound braided line. This will allow for long casts and handle the heavy gear. The longer rod will also help keep the line up over the waves. A similar conventional rod and reel can certainly be substituted for anglers who prefer that type of tackle.

Best rigs for surf fishing for striped bass

surf fishing for striped bass

Anglers surf fishing for striped bass will need to use the proper rigs in order to be successful. The rig used for casting artificial lures is pretty simple. Anglers simply use a 3 foot length of 60 lb flourocarbon leader, followed by a quality snap swivel. This allows for easy lure changes while also adding action to the lure. Striped bass do not have teeth. However, bluefish do have teeth and are often found mixed in with striped bass. Wire leaders are certainly an option, though strikes will be reduced, especially in clear water. Anglers will have to decide whether the risk of loosing lures is worth the extra bites. In most cases, sticking with flourocarbon leaders is the best option.

surf fishing for striped bass

Read more about surf fishing in this comprehensive article

Best bottom fishing rigs for striped bass

There are two basic rigs that will cover the vast majority of surf fishing situations that a striped bass angler will encounter. These are a fish finder rig and a 3 way rig. Both work well on striped bass and most other game fish caught in the surf.

surf fishing rigs

A fish finder rig uses a clever device that slides on the running line. A swivel stops it, then a leader is attached followed by the hook. This rig allows the striped bass to pick up the bait and move off with the bait without detecting the weight of the sinker.

fishing for river catfish

A # way rig uses a 3 way swivel tied to the main line. On one rung a leader and hook are attached. On the third rung a leader and the sinker. Anglers often use lighter line on the sinker drop, so if it snags only the sinker is lost.

Best hooks and sinkers for surf fishing

Anglers have a couple of different choices when it comes to sinkers. Most anglers use pyramid sinkers, they hold well in the sand. There are special variations of these that some anglers prefer. Bank sink are occasionally used, especially if it is desired to have the bait bouncing along the bottom.

surf fishing

Most anglers use circle hooks when surf fishing for striped bass. In several states, they are required by law. Circle hooks usually result in the bass being hooked in the mouth as opposed to swallowing it. A #3/0 is a good size for smaller striped bass and small baits. #7/0-#10/0 work best for big baits and big fish.

No matter the size of the circle hook, anglers need to just come tight and reel and not to set the hook. In surf fishing, this is really a natural reaction anyway, anglers using “J” hooks usually let the fish hook itself.

Surf fishing techniques for striped bass

surf fishing

Anglers surf fishing for striped bass will find fish of all sizes. Many will be “schoolies” that are numerous and great fun to catch. Larger fish, often called ‘cows” are more challenging. The two primary techniques are casting lures and bottom fishing with cut or live bait. However, the first order of business is locating fish.

Locating striped bass in the surf

Reading the beach” is a skill that takes years to master. To novice anglers, it all looks the same. However, to the trained eye there are clues that will dictate the best spots to fish. Some tips and techniques will be shared to help anglers find fish in the surf.

Inlets are top spots

striped bass fishing in the surf

One excellent strategy when surf fishing for striped bass is to choose a beach close to an inlet. Inlets have strong current flow and usually rocks or other structure. These factors combine to hold bait, and therefore striped bass. Fishing near inlets is a bit of a “shortcut” to learning a beach. Anglers do need to be VERY careful when wading as currents are strong.

Read more about striped bass fishing in this article by Capt Jim

Also, while maybe not technically surf fishing, many inlets have a jetty that anglers can access in which to fish. The rocks create eddies which striped bass will use as ambush points. Strong currents exist there as well. However, these spots can be quite crowded, especially on the weekend.

Cuts in bars are top surf fishing spots

Several bars run parallel to the beach, each a dozen or so yards apart. There are “cuts” in these bars. Striped bass and other game fish will use these bars to move in and out of the troughs. There are a couple different ways to locate these cuts. The easiest way is to scout the beach at low tide.

surf fishing

Waves will give anglers a clue as to the composition of the bars as well. The closer to the beach the waves break, the deeper the water. Gaps in breaking waves also can indicate a cut in the bar. The waves themselves will break on the bars, giving anglers great clues as to what lies underneath.

Find the bait, find the fish

There is one overriding principle that applies to most forms of saltwater fishing; fish will be near the “groceries”. That means that while they have other preferences, forage is the prime consideration, other than during spawning. Beaches that have bait fish showing or birds working are excellent areas to start fishing.

Tides are very important in surf fishing

Florida surf fishing

Understanding tides is very important when saltwater fishing, and anglers plying the surf are no exception. Tides will move fish and bait. If there is one general rule, it is that the two hours before and after the high tide are best for surf fishing. If this occurs at dawn or dusk, so much the better.

In spots such as Maine that experience huge tides, it can just be too difficult trying to fish when the tide is running hard. The slack water times of the turn of the tide are the only practical times to fish. However, the beach can be easier to read on low tide. Anglers fishing inlets usually prefer the outgoing tide.

Night time is the right time for surf fishing

striped bass

Like many game fish species, striped bass feed heavily at night. There are also several advantages for the angler. The crowds will be much thinner; only the serious anglers will be out on the beach at 2:00 a.m.! Anglers can go heavier with the leaders and tackle.

There are some disadvantages to surf fishing at night as well. Sharks and rays can be a huge nuisance for anglers soaking baits. Also, obviously it is more difficult to see, anglers need to put an emphasis on safety. In the fall and early spring, it can be downright chilly as well.

striped bass in surf

Find “breaking” fish

If there is one situation that anglers surf fishing for striped bass (and other species) relish, it is ‘breaking fish”. These are fish that have herded bait fish up to the surface and are ravaging them. In this situation, just about any lure that remotely resembles the forage will draw a strike. Bait can work, but these are prime conditions for casting lures.

Top artificial lures when surf fishing for striped bass

surf fishing for striped bass

There are several lure types that really shine when surf fishing for striped bass. These are spoons (and metals), jigs, and plugs. All three are heavy so that they cast well and imitate wounded bait fish. Local shops can be great sources of both information and lures, they know what produces in their particular area.


lues for surf fishing

Spoons are terrific surf fishing lures, perhaps the best. They are heavy and cast a mile, even into a stiff breeze. Spoons put out both flash and vibration, simulating wounded bait fish. Spoons are versatile lures that can be worked right on the surface for breaking fish as well as closer to the bottom. They are an excellent choice when blind casting off the beach.

Read this article on the best striped bass fishing lures

The top spoon for surf fishing for striped bass and other species in the Acme Kastmaster spoon. It is slender and aerodynamic, which results in long casts. It comes in several sizes and quite a few colors and finishes. These baits also come in a single hook version, which facilitates a healthy release.


jig fishing

Jigs are also very effective surf fishing lures. They can be cast and and reeled back in, this works well with shad style swim baits on a jig head. Bucktail jigs work very well when bounced along the bottom. Some anglers add a strip of squid or cut bait to make it even more attractive.

bucktail jig

The best bucktail jigs for saltwater fishing are Spro jigs. White is tough to beat and 3 ounces is a good all round size. One tip is to vary the weight of the jig to cover the entire water column. A lighter 1-2 ounce jig can be used to swim the upper part of the water column. Adding a strip of squid will help. A 3-5 ounce jig can be bounced right along the bottom in stronger currents.

Erica and Paulie really like the Tsunami line of soft plastic baits. The weighted sand eel is extremely effective, especially in the fall when the sand eels are running. The Tsunami Pro Swim Shad Holographic Swim Bait works well all season. They are available in several sizes and many different colors. White is a good place to start.

fishing from jetty


Plugs are the third style of artificial lure that works well in the surf. Plugs are hard bodied lures, usually plastic but can be wood as well, that mimic wounded bait fish. They come in many varieties from poppers and topwater plugs to diving plugs. However, plugs do have a couple of disadvantages. They can be fairly expensive and bluefish will cut them off the line. Also, plugs usually sport multiple treble hooks which can make handling and releasing the fish more challenging. Many anglers replace the treble hooks with singe hooks. VMC manufactures hooks specifically designed for this, the eye is turned inline with the hook. These facilitate a safe release while not reducing the hookup ratio.

mag darter


Erica’s personal favorite plug is the Yo-Zuri 5” floating mag darter in chartreuse during the day, and in blue/black at night. She caught her personal best striper on this lure! It was her go to plug when they weren’t biting anything else.

Rapala x rap


The top diving plug is the Rapala X-Rap Slashbait, size 12 is a good all around size.

Surf fishing for striped bass with natural bait

Many anglers choose to use live or cut bait when surf fishing for striped bass. While lures are productive and great fun to fish, there are times when the real thing will be more productive. There is the added benefit that bait will catch other desirable species as well.

Striped bass have a varied diet, feeding on bait fish, crustaceans, and other marine life. Bloodworms are a top bait used year round to catch striped bass. Clams are another excellent and universal bait. Fresh clams are desired. Striped bass love crabs, but they do not stay on the hook as well in surf fishing conditions. Sand fleas are another excellent bait used when surf fishing for striped bass.

surf fishing techniques and tips

While live bait fish are often used by anglers fishing for striped bass in boats, it really is not practical for anglers fishing the surf. It becomes problematic hauling bait buckets and aerators around. Also, live bait fish will often fly off on the cast. Fortunately, cut bait works just as good in most applications.

Just about any fresh caught fish can be cut up and used for bait, as long as it is legal to do so. Local bait shops that cater to anglers surf fishing are usually the best place for both bait and advice on the best baits for that particular area. Mullet, bunker (menhaden), mackerel are the top cut baits.

In conclusion, this article on surf fishing for striped bass will help anglers catch more fish!





Surf Fishing for Whiting – A Complete Guide

Surf Fishing for Whiting – A Complete Guide

This article will thoroughly cover surf fishing for whiting. Whiting are a plentiful, good tasting little fish that are a favorite among anglers fishing from the beach.

surf fishing for whiting

Special thanks to Courtney for the terrific pictures! Follow her brand Life4Reel on her website, Instagram, and YouTube pages and channels!

Whiting, Menticirrhus americanus, are also known as southern kingfish, sea mullet, surf mullet, and king whiting. They are abundant in the waters off of the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean beaches. Whiting only grow to a couple of pounds, but they put up a good fight and are terrific to eat.

Click this link to read more about surf fishing in Florida

Whiting are the perfect species for anglers who enjoy surf fishing. They are abundant, easy to catch, and taste great. What more could anyone ask for? Catching whiting is easy and uncomplicated and that is certainly part of the attraction. However, as in all fishing, there are tips and techniques that will help anglers be more successful.

fishing for whiting

Surf fishing for whiting

Anglers enjoy surf fishing for whiting from Texas to New England. They are found off of beaches throughout this range. There are some differences in tackle and technique for the two bodies of water, therefore, they will be covered separately.

Best baits for surf fishing for whiting

saltwater fishing with shrimp

The top bait used by anglers surf fishing for whiting is shrimp; either live, fresh dead, or frozen. Shrimp are available at just about every tackle shop that caters to saltwater anglers. There really is no need to go to the bother of keeping shrimp alive, fresh dead and frozen shrimp work just as well and are easier to use. Small shrimp can be used whole while larger shrimp can be cut in half or thirds.

Click to read more about surf fishing tackle

Whiting feed on crustaceans. Therefore, clams, oysters, crabs, and sand fleas are all effective baits. Clams stay on the hook better than oysters and crabs for anglers surf fishing for mullet. Squid are another productive bait for whiting and it will catch most other surf species as well. Fresh cut bait will produce as well.

surf fishing for whiting

Anglers can purchase Capt Jim’s E-book, “Inshore Saltwater Fishing” for $5 by clicking on the title link. It is 23,000 words long and covers tackle, tactics, and species.

There are several companies that manufacture and sell commercially prepared baits for anglers surf fishing. The two most popular currently are Fishbites and Fishgum. These are effective baits for whiting and pompano as well. The main advantage to these baits is the convenience. They are easily stored and always ready to go fishing without the smell or mess.

Click to shop Amazon for an affordable Berkley surf fishing rod and reel combo

Surf fishing for whiting in the Atlantic Ocean

Anglers surf fishing for whiting in the Atlantic Ocean use traditional surf fishing tackle and rigs. They are faced with the need to make long casts as well as dealing with a rough surf in many instances. A 10 foot to 12 foot medium action rod with a 6000 series reel spooled up with 20 lb braided line is a good all round combination.

surf fishing

Most whiting caught off Atlantic beaches are done so by anglers casting the basic spreader rig, also known as the high/low rig or chicken rig. A pair of #4 hooks and a 3 ounce pyramid sinker will cover most whiting fishing situations. Anglers go go up or down in weight as needed depending on waves and wind as well as distance needed on the cast. Small floats are often used to keep the bait up just off the bottom. The color acts as an attractant as well. These rigs can be purchased locally and online.

Anglers surf fishing for whiting will find them in various locations on the beach. At high tide, they will often be found close to shore, “in the wash” as it is termed. Fish will also be found on the front or back side of the bars. On the lower tide stages, whiting will often be found on the back side of the second or third bar.

surf fishing

Surf fishing for whiting in the Gulf of Mexico

Anglers surf fishing for whiting in the Gulf of Mexico often face different conditions. Most of the time the waves are much lower than what anglers will face in the Atlantic Ocean. Whiting are often caught quite close to shore. They will cruise the first trough, or “ditch” in search of food. For this reason, lighter tackle and rigs are often used.

sliding sinker rig

The same inshore tackle used by anglers to catch speckled trout and other species will be fine for surf fishing for whiting off of the calm Gulf of Mexico beaches. A sliding sinker rig works very well. This consists of a ¼ ounce or ½ ounce egg sinker, a swivel, and 2′ of 20 lb leader followed by a #4 hook. This rig will drift along the bottom, resulting in a very natural presentation. Shrimp are by far the top bait.

surf fishing

There are certainly situations where anglers fishing for whiting off of the beaches will need to use conventional surf fishing gear. The same tackle and baits used by anglers surf fishing in the Atlantic Ocean works fin in this situation.

Anglers can also use artificial lures when surf fishing for whiting in the Gulf of Mexico. The top lure by far is a jig. Small bucktail jigs used for pompano work fine as does a soft plastic grub on a jig head. Anglers can tip the jig with a small piece of shrimp, resulting in the best of both worlds and a very effective surf fishing combination. This can be used in the Atlantic on calm days as well.

Other locations to find whiting

fishing for whiting

While most whiting are caught by anglers surf fishing, they are caught in other locations as well. Passes and inlets are spots that will produce whiting. Sand bars in these areas along with deeper holes are good places to try. The same techniques used off the beach work well when targeting whiting in the passes and inlets from shore.

Anglers fishing in boats to well drift fishing for whiting in passes and inlets. A shrimp tipped jig bounced sharply off the bottom from a drifting boat is an extremely effective technique. It not only produces whiting, but it will fool just about every other inshore saltwater species.

More species caught while surf fishing for whiting

One terrific benefit that anglers surf fishing for whiting experience is that they will invariably catch other species as well. Just about every saltwater fish feeds on shrimp. Therefore, bottom fishing with shrimp will produce a wide variety of fish.


surf fishing

Perhaps the top by-catch of whiting anglers is pompano. In fact, in many cases it is the other way around; anglers surf fishing for pompano catch whiting. Pompano have a small mouth and feed primarily on crustaceans while often being found in the surf. Pompano are superb on the diner plate!

surf fishing



Redfish, also known as red drum, are certainly a possibility for any angler surf fishing from Texas to the mid Atlantic beaches. While they often take larger cut baits, redfish love shrimp and will put up a terrific fight, especially on lighter tackle. Redfish are very good to eat.


surf fishing for bluefish

Small bluefish are a commonly caught species by anglers surf fishing. These fish are aggressive and readily take just about any bait or lure. Larger bluefish will usually bite through the lighter leaders used for whiting. Smaller bluefish are decent to eat, but certainly do not top the list.

Speckled trout

surf fishing for speckled trout

Speckled trout are often caught by anglers surf fishing, especially all along the Gulf of Mexico coast. They hit almost all live and cut baits as well as most artificial lures. They are a beautiful species that are fun to catch and are terrific to eat.

Jack crevalle

surf fishing for jack crevalle

Jack crevalle are a very hard fighting saltwater game fish. They grow quite large as well, over 30 pounds. Jacks often move through in schools, feeding ferociously on the surface. They will take just about any lure or bait and are not considered good to eat.


surf fishing for sharks

Sharks are always a possibility for anglers surf fishing. Most sharks will cut through the light leader used for whiting fishing. However, smaller sharks that are hooked in the corner of the mouth can be landed, with a little luck. Obviously, they should be handled with care.


surf fishing for ladyfish

Ladyfish are a hard fighting and pretty fish that Florida and Gulf Coast anglers know well. Some consider them to be a nuisance. They are not good to eat by prized by many anglers to be used as cut bait.


Sheepshead are mostly associated with structure of some sort, but they will be found cruising the beaches as well. Sheepshead also feed primarily on crustaceans so shrimp are a top bait. They are very good to eat, though difficult to clean.

Black drum

surf fishing for black drum

Black drum are a commonly caught species by anglers surf fishing. They will readily devour shrimp. Black drum grow very large and will certainly challenge any angler that hooks one on a lighter rod and reel. Small drum are good eating, larger specimens get wormy.


Flounder are a prize for any angler surf fishing for whiting. They inhabit sandy bottoms and are often caught in the surf. Cut bait is usually the best bait for flounder, but they will certainly take shrimp as well as a jig bounced along the bottom. Flounder are fantastic eating!

In conclusion, this article on surf fishing for whiting will help anglers catch more of these fun and tasty saltwater species!


Best 11 Spinnerbait Fishing Lures

Best 11 Spinnerbait Fishing Lures

This post will list the best 11 spinnerbait fishing lures. Spinnerbaits are versatile lures that will fool just about every species in both fresh and salt water. Here is the list of Capt Jim’s favorite spinnerbaits.

best 11 smallmouth bass fishing lures

The best 11 spinnerbait fishing lures are;

  • Johnson Beetle Spin
  • Mister Twister spinnerbait
  • Strike King Mini spinnerbait
  • Booyah Pond Magic spinnerbait
  • Strike King Premier spinerbait
  • Terminator Spinnerbaits
  • Booyah Super Shad spinnerbaits
  • Booyah Pikee spinnerbait
  • Z-Man spinnerbaits
  • Molix spinnerbaits
  • Strike King Redfish Magic spinnerbait


spinnerbait fishing for pike

Spinnerbait descriptions and characteristics

Spinnerbaits are odd looking lures in some ways. They consist of a wire arm that looks a bit like a safety pin. Many old-timers still refer to these lures as “safety pin lures”. A spinner blade or blades rides on the top arm. Most spinnerbaits use two blades; these are termed “tandem bladed spinnerbaits”.

A large single blade, usually a Colorado blade, works well in murky conditions. It puts out a steady vibration which attracts fish to the sound. Most tandem spinnerbaits use a combination of blades, usually a Colorado and a willow blade. However, the blade color, size, and style combinations are endless. In clearer water, this puts out a ton of flash with some vibration as well.

spinnerbait fishing

The hook rides on the lower arm. It is usually a molded in jig head, which provides weight for the spinnerbait to ride correctly. Rubber skirts are often used on the jig head. These undulate very naturally in the water. A grub body can be used as well. Some anglers even use both, adding a soft plastic “trailer” to the skirt.

Spinnerbait fishing tips

For the most part, spinnerbaits are used in fairly shallow water. Due to their design, spinnerbaits are fairly weedless. The wire arm tends to bounce of timber and rocks. Spinnerbaits also work through and over grass quite well without hanging up.

spinnerbait fishing tips

There are situations where smaller spinnerbaits are extremely effective. Anglers fishing for bluegill, crappie, and panfish use them often. Smaller bass and trout will certainly take them as well. Even large fish will hit a smaller spinnerbait when they are feeding on smaller bait fish.

Spinnerbaits can be worked in several ways. They can be “burned” on top, similar to a buzz bait. This will draw some ferocious strikes. In most cases, a steady retrieve with the bait working just above submerged vegetation or cover works best. Stopping the lure and allowing it to fall can be an effective tactic as well.

largemouth bass fishing in Florida

Anglers can also work spinnerbaits deeper in the water column. This is known as “slow rolling”. It basically means simply reeling the spinnerbait, often a heavier model, slowly so that it works near the bottom. Bouncing it off the bottom can be very effective. This technique works well in cold water when game fish are deeper and less active.

Click to read more about spinnerbait fishing

Small or finesse spinnerbaits

panfish Beetle spin

There are situations where smaller spinnerbaits are extremely effective. Anglers fishing for bluegill, crappie, and panfish use them often. Smaller bass and trout will certainly take them as well. Even large fish will hit a smaller spinnerbait when they are feeding on smaller bait fish.

Johnson Beetlespin

The Johnson Beetlespin is an unassuming looking little spinnerbait. It is first on the list of best 11 spinnerbait fishing lures. However, it is an extremely effective lure, especially for bluegill and panfish. The 1/16 ounce size works very well in most situations for panfish. Anglers chasing larger bluegill as well as crappie can bump it up to the 1/8 ounce size. Finally, the 1/4 ounce size is extremely effective for bass and ponds and streams.

Sarasota crappie fishing

Beetle spin spinnerbaits come in a wide variety of color patterns. Capt. Jim’s favorite Bettle spin is the simple silver blade with a black grub body with either a white or yellow stripe. Green would be his second favorite, followed by white. These lures look very simple in the package, but they really are incredibly effective fishing lures.

Florida panfish fishing

The beetle Spin bait Is as simple as they come. It has a single Colorado blade and a little grub body. As mentioned about, it works very well on panfish as well as bass. Anglers use them in small streams as well to fool smallmouth bass and rock bass. In most situation, a slow, steady presentation works best. Slower is almost always better. As long as the blade is rotating, it is moving fast enough.

beetle spin

Anglers can click this link to shop Amazon for Beetlespin lures

Mister Twister spinnerbait

The Mister Twister spinnerbait is a terrific fishing lure for panfish, bass, walleye, and other species. The flash of the blade and the incredible action of the curly tail are irresistible to many fish. Like most spinner baits, especially when chasing panfish, the slower the retrieve the better. Chartreuse is by far Capt. Jim’s favorite color. It is second on the list of best 11 spinnerbait fishing lures.

fishing for panfish with spinnerbaits

The Mister Twister spinnerbait is a very versatile bait. Anglers can change the color and size to match the quarry and conditions. 1/8 ounce is a good all round size for large panfish, small bass, trout, and smallmouth bass. Anglers can go up in size to catch larger fish including walleye and northern pike.

mister twister spinnerbait

Anglers can click this link to shop Amazon for spinnerbait/grub lures

Strike King Mini spinnerbait

The Strike King Mini spinnerbait is next on the list of best 11 spinnerbait fishing lures. It is an excellent choice when fishing smaller bodies of water such as ponds, streams, and smaller rivers. it works on saltwater species as well when fish are feeding on smaller bait fish. They really shine in situations where larger spinner baits land too loudly or are too large and flashy. Strike King Mini spinnerbaits work very well right after the shad spawn as well.

best soft plastic lure

Anglers can choose from a variety of colors when using this bait. However, keeping it simple is a great approach. The hammered single Colorado blade puts out excellent flash and vibration. Capt Jim’s two favorite color patters are all black and chartreuse and white.



best small spinnerbait for bass fishing

Anglers can click this link to shop Amazon for Strike King Mini Spinnerbaits

Booyah Pond Magic spinnerbait

The Booyah Pond Magic is another medium sized spinnerbait designed to fish smaller bodies of water. This bait also works well when fish are finicky, such as post cold front conditions. It is a tandem bladed bait and is a bit larger than the lures listed above. While a tandem spinnerbait, it does put out less commotion, due to the smaller blades. It is fourth on the list of best 11 spinnerbait fishing lures.

best 11 spinnerbait fishing lures

The thing that sets these spinnerbaits apart from others is that they come in some very enticing and unique color combinations that were specifically designed for fishing in small ponds and rivers. The crayfish pattern pictured below is particularly unique. It is extremely effective when fished in slower moving streams and small rivers. Smallmouth bass with hit it with gusto!

Booyah P:ond Magic

Anglers can click this link to shop Amazon for Booyah Pond Magic spinnerbaits

Full sized spinnerbaits

There are many companies that manufacture quality spinnerbaits. It would be impossible to list them all and no slight is meant for those that are omitted. Most of these larger spinner baits are tandem bladed baits. They are offered and combinations of willow leaf, Colorado, and Indiana blades. The following is a list of larger spinnerbaits that are available in multiple sizes and colors for anglers to use.

bass fishing in Florida

Strike King Spinnerbaits

Strike King is a leader in the industry when it comes to spinnerbaits. The Strike King Mini spinnerbait has already been mentioned in the smaller spinnerbait section. There are several other Strike King spinner baits that anglers should consider using on a variety of species. The Premier Plus spinner bait by Strike King is an outstanding fishing lure. It is a tandem bladed spinner bait. The baits are available in many blade size, style, and color combinations.

strike king premier

Anglers can click this link to shop Amazon for Strike King Premier spinnerbaits

The Strike King Finesse KVD Spinnerbait is a bit smaller in size and profile. This is an excellent spinnerbait choice in very clear water, especially in the cooler months when bait tends to be smaller. It is a tandem bladed spinnerbait and also has a smaller profile skirt. Like all Strike King spinner baits, it is a stout lure made with quality components.

kvd spinnerbait

Anglers can click this link to shop Amazon for KVD spinnerbaits

spinnerbait fishing

Terminator spinnerbaits

The Terminator line of spinnerbaits is well-known in the fishing world to be an incredibly tough and durable fishing lure. It is made from quality components and has a frame that bounces back into shape. Terminator spinnerbaits use quality ball bearings swivels on the blades. The head of the jig was specifically designed to be especially weedless. Terminator spinner baits come in a variety of color combinations.


Anglers can click this link to shop Amazon for Terminator spinnerbaits

Booyah spinnerbaits

Booyah spinnerbaits have taken the market by storm in a relatively short amount of time. They offer several different spinnerbait models that are both durable and effective. These super shad spinner bait is unique in that it comes with four willow leaf blades. This results in the lure mimicking a small school of fish, similar to the Alabama rigs, but much easier to cast.

fishing with spinnerbaits

Anglers can click this link to shop Amazon for Booyah Super Shad spinnerbaits

Booyah offers a complete line of spinnerbait options for anglers. The choice is endless, single and tandem bladed baits with combinations of Colorado, Indiana, and willow leaf blades are available in a variety of sizes. The Booyah Pikee spinner bait is the best lure on the market for anglers who want to cast a spinner bait for pike or musky. It is next on the list of best 11 spinnerbait fishing lures.


Anglers can click this link to shop Amazon for Booyah Pikee spinnerbaits

Z-Man spinnerbaits

Z-Man is another company that offers quality spinnerbaits to anglers. They are all tandem bladed baits that are available in a combination of blades along with skirt color options. These baits are constructed with quality components and are both durable and effective.

best 11 spinnerbait fishing lures

Anglers can click this link to shop Amazon for Z-Man spinnerbaits

Molix spinnerbaits

Molix spinnerbaits are premium lures that use high quality components. They are Kayla’s personal favorite baits. Discerning anglers who want to use the best may choose to use these lures. Like most manufacturers, Molix offers anglers a variety of color combinations in both skirts and blades.

spinnerbait fishing

Anglers can click this link to shop Amazon for Molix spinnerbaits

Redfish Magic Spinnerbait

The Redfish Magic is one of the the first spinnerbaits designed for saltwater anglers. It is an excellent search bait that can cover a lot of water when fishing expansive flats. While primarily designed for redfish in the shallows, it will catch spotted sea trout, snook, jacks, and other species as well. It comes with a large, single gold blade with a paddle tail grub body.

redfish magic

Anglers can click this link to shop Amazon for Redfish Magic spinnerbaits

In conclusion, this article on the best 11 spinnerbait fishing lures and techniques should encourage anglers to take advantage of these very effective lures which are easy to use!

Fishing for Triggerfish – Tips, Tackle, and Techniques

Fishing for Triggerfish – Tips, Tackle, and Techniques

The topic of this article will be fishing for triggerfish. Triggerfish are a hard fighting and very tasty species. They are often caught by anglers fishing for other bottom fish. However, they have a devoted following and are targeted specifically by many anglers.

fishing for triggerfish

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Triggerfish, get their name from the way their dorsal fin will retract when the rear spine is pushed down, or triggered. Most triggerfish caught by anglers in North America are grey triggerfish, or Balistes capriscus. They are an aggressive species that are found along the United States coastline from Texas to the mid Atlantic as well as in the Caribbean Sea.

Triggerfish are quite aggressive compared to many other species. However, that does not mean that they are easy to catch. The primary reason for this is that triggerfish have a very small mouth in relation to their size. This mouth is often compared to a parent with beak like teeth. This allows triggerfish to nibble a bait off without getting hooked.

Anglers can purchase Capt Jim’s E-book, “Inshore Saltwater Fishing” for $5 by clicking on the title link. It is 23,000 words long and covers tackle, tactics, and species.

Triggerfish habits and locations

Triggerfish, like most bottom fish species, almost always relate to structure of some sort. This can be natural hard bottom and coral, ledges, artificial reefs, and wrecks. Triggerfish are rarely found in the inshore bays or passes and inlets. However, they can be found fairly close to shore in many instances, making them an excellent target for anglers with smaller boats.

triggerfish fishing

Smaller ledges and patches of hard bottom that go unnoticed by anglers fishing for grouper and other species are prime spots to target triggerfish. These smaller areas are more difficult to find and to properly position on. However, they will often produce plenty of triggerfish along with snapper and other bottom species. That is one terrific advantage that anglers have when fishing for triggerfish, invariably other species will crash the party.

Best triggerfish fishing tackle

The same tackle that anglers use when bottom fishing for smaller snapper and other species will work fine for triggerfish. Medium spinning tackle and light conventional outfits work very well. Spinning outfits are best and reasonably shallow water where a heavy sinker is not required. Light conventional tackle works best in deeper water or and spots with strong currents where a heavier sinker is needed.

fishing for triggerfish

Capt Jim has been a fishing guide in Sarasota, Florida since 1991. Anglers who are interested in purchasing the equipment that he uses and writes about in his articles and reports can do so HERE on the PRODUCTS page.

A 7 foot medium action spinning rod with a 3000 to 4000 series reel spooled up with 20 pound braided line is an excellent all round combination for anglers who prefer spinning outfits. A 6 1/2 foot to 7 foot conventional rod with a 2230 series reel and 30 pound braided line works well for anglers who prefer that type of equipment.

Click links to shop Amazon for Penn spinning and conventional outfits

“Fishing Lido Key is a participant in the Amazon Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. ”

Best hooks and rigs for triggerfish fishing

As mentioned above, triggerfish have a very small mouth. For this reason, they have earned a reputation as being very difficult to catch. In many instances, this is simply because the hooks being used are two large for their smaller mouth. Scaling down and hook size will dramatically increase the catch ratio when targeting triggerfish. These smaller hooks will be fine for snapper and other species as well. Remember, small hooks will catch big fish, but big hooks will rarely catch smaller fish.


Many anglers fishing for triggerfish and other bottom species have gone to circle hooks. In the Gulf of Mexico, they are required. Anglers must use non-stainless steel non-offset circle hooks for any type of reef fishing. Circle hooks dramatically reduce fish mortality as when properly used the hook almost always ends up in the corner of the fishes mouth. For anglers targeting triggerfish, a 2/0 circle hook is an excellent all round size.

For the most part, this is basic, simple bottom fishing. It is hard to beat the tried-and-true high low, or chicken rig. This allows anglers to present a couple different baits at a couple different depths in a vertical presentation. These rigs are available commercially, however most anglers tie their own. Three-way swivels can be used, but simple loop knots with a hook on the end work fine.

chicken rig

Top triggerfish baits

Triggersfish will respond the same baits that produce grouper, snapper, flounder, and other species. Squid is a top bait as it is easily obtained, stays on the hook well, and triggerfish love them. Frozen sardines are another very effective triggerfish bait that is readily available at bait shops. Clams, oysters, and octopus are productive as well.

fishing for triggerfish

Small pieces of just about any fresh caught cut bait were great and stay on the hook quite well. Live shrimp produces triggerfish, however is a bit more expensive than some other bait and does not stay on the hook as long.

One popular technique when using the chicken rig is to try a couple of different baits at once. While triggerfish are not notoriously fussy, there are days when one bait will outproduce another. By trying to different baits on the same rig, anglers can quickly identify the bait that fish want that particular day.

Triggerfish fishing techniques

Fishing for triggerfish is not overly complicated. The first order of business is to position the boat over the structure that is to be fished. Anglers can choose to either anchor or drift, depending on the depth, size of the structure, and wind. GPS electric trolling motors have revolutionized bottom fishing as they allow anglers very precise boat control.

triggerfish fishing

The presentation is basically the same when fishing for triggerfish for anglers both anchoring and drifting. Drifting will probably require a bit heavier weight in order to keep the line vertical. This is very important as it both reduces the chances for snags as well as increases hookups.

Once in position, the baits are lower to the bottom. Veteran anglers fishing for triggerfish use heavier weights than might otherwise be needed for a couple of reasons. A heavier weight will maintain the desirable vertical presentation, despite wind and strong currents. Also, the rig falling quickly through the water column to the bottom will virtually eliminate smaller fish nibbling the bait off on the way down.

How to hook triggerfish

As previously mentioned, triggerfish have a reputation for being notoriously difficult to hook. There are a couple of techniques that will help anglers improve their success ratio. One tactic that works well is to very slowly start reeling up the rig as soon as it touches the bottom. This will keep the line tie, taking it easier to feel bites. It will also require the triggerfish to rise up off the bottom to feed on bait that is seemingly escaping.

It is imperative that when fishing for triggerfish (and other species), especially when using circle hooks, to not set the hook when a bite is detected. The best technique is to keep the rod tip low and wait out the little nibbles or taps. Once a steady pull is felt, the angler should real fast tightening up the line and getting the circle hook turning in the fishes mouth. Once hooked, the rod tip can be raised up and the fish reeled in. This technique actually works best when using “J” hooks as well.

Catching triggerfish on the surface

Triggerfish will at times be found feeding on the surface. This will happen naturally when weeds are present. Triggerfish will move up in the water column to feed on forage that is hiding in the weeds. They also respond quite well to chum and will rise up off the bottom into the chum slick to feed.

When triggerfish are encountered on the surface, whether naturally or chummed up, obviously a heavyweight is not desirable. A simple free line rig of a hook and maybe just a split shot or two will be all that is required. Spinning outfits are better than conventional rigs in this application.

Leaders for bottom fishing

In most situations, a 30 pound to 50 pound fluorocarbon leader is the best choice when fishing for triggerfish. They are usually fairly aggressive and willing to bite once located. This is especially true when the water is a bit stirred up and has some color to it. The heavier leader also gives anglers a fighting chance in the event that a larger grouper or other species is.

There will be times when triggerfish will be fussy and reluctant to bite. This can be especially true when the water is clear and the seas are calm. Under these conditions, anglers may enjoy more success by going lighter on the leader as well as the weight. This will also benefit anglers fishing in areas where mangrove snapper are present, which are notoriously line shy in clear water.

Triggerfish are terrific to eat

While triggerfish put up an excellent battle when hooked with the appropriate tackle, they are mostly prized for their incredibly tasty snow white fillets. Triggerfish are fantastic eating! With their increased popularity has come more regulations. Anglers need to check their local regulations, keeping in mind that they are often different for state and federal waters.

One downside to keeping triggerfish to eat is that they are fairly difficult to clean. Triggerfish half incredibly tough skin and a sharp knife is required. They also have fairly large rib cages and bones. Finally, the fillet is not huge in relation to the fishes size. However, all of this work is worth it once the triggerfish is properly prepared and served on a plate.

In conclusion, this article on fishing for triggerfish will help anglers understand the little nuances that will result in more success!

Black Drum Fishing – A Complete Guide

Black Drum Fishing – A Complete Guide

This article will cover black drum fishing. These cousins to red drum, or redfish, are a popular inshore saltwater species.

black drum fishing

Black drum, Pogonias cromis, are found along the coastal water of the United States from Texas to the Mid Atlantic. They grow large, with the world record being 113 pounds. Black drum feed primarily on crustaceans. Smaller drum are excellent to eat, while larger specimens tend to be wormy.

Black drum range and habits

Black drum are found from New England along the coast to Texas and into Mexico. However, they are most commonly caught from the mid Atlantic states around to Texas. Juvenile and smaller black drum will inhabit brackish estuary systems while larger mature black drum are mostly found in the saltier, open waters of the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean. Large bays will hold schools of big black drum as well.

fishing for black drum

One look at the mouth of a black drum will let an angler know how it feeds. They feed almost exclusively on crustaceans, which live on or near the bottom. Black drum have an “inferior” mouth, which means it is behind the nose. Drum also have crushers in their throat which allows them to feed on anything with a shell.

Black drum feed at night

black drum

Black drum are nocturnal and most definitely feed at night. Lighted bridges, especially in passes and inlets on the outgoing tide are prime spots. Anglers fishing from piers catch them as well. Shallow bars will hold fish, but navigating in the dark can be tricky and is best left to experienced anglers.

Black drum vs sheepshead

Black drum and sheepshead do look quite a bit like sheepshead. The two also feed on similar prey and inhabit the same waters. However, when held side by side, it is fairly easy to distinguish the two. In this picture, the black drum is on the left and the sheepshead is on the right.

black drum

Anglers can purchase Capt Jim’s E-book, “Inshore Saltwater Fishing” for $5 by clicking on the title link. It is 23,000 words long and covers tackle, tactics, and species.

Black drum are cousins to the red drum, or redfish. They are also similar in looks and habits to sheepshead. In fact, smaller black drum can be mistaken for sheepshead. Black drum are wider and have barbels under the chin. Both feed on crustaceans near structure. Black drum can be found in very shallow water as well as in quite deep holes. They are usually located in schools and often relate to structure of some type. Bridges, docks, oyster bars, jetties, rocks, and hard bottom areas will hold fish.

black drum fishing

Black drum are great to eat

Black drum are very good to eat. Most fish that feed on crustaceans are desirable, and black drum are no exception. However, this really only applies to smaller fish. Most anglers find black drum between 14” and 24” to be the best to keep. Larger drum tend to be wormy and the breeder fish are best released to ensure good populations of fish.

eating black drum

Best baits for black drum fishing

As mentioned above, black drum feed primarily on crustaceans. Crabs of all types are top black drum fishing baits. Blue crabs are cut in halves or quarters while smaller crabs are fished whole. Shrimp are also a preferred forage of black drum, as they are for most saltwater species. Both crabs and shrimp work well both live and dead as the scent is a major component in attracting fish.

saltwater fishing with shrimp

While black drum can be taken by anglers using artificial lures, the vast majority of fish are taken on natural or live baits. The few black drum that are fooled by lures will hit a soft plastic bait bounced slowly along the bottom. Spoons will catch a few fish as well.

Best black drum fishing tackle

A 7′ medium action rod with a 3000-4000 series reel spooled up with 20 lb braided line is an excellent all round combination. It will allow anglers to cast light baits to drum in shallow water while providing enough backbone to handle a decent fish.

fishing for black drum

Click links to shop Amazon for Penn spinning and conventional outfits

Anglers fishing for large black drum around structure such as bridges, docks, jetties, and in rock holes will need to beef up the tackle. In these application, conventional tackle is usually the best choice. No casting is required and anglers can muscle up on a large fish.

Capt Jim has been a fishing guide in Sarasota, Florida since 1991. Anglers who are interested in purchasing the equipment that he uses and writes about in his articles and reports can do so HERE on the PRODUCTS page.

“Fishing Lido Key is a participant in the Amazon Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. ”

Best black drum fishing rigs

fishing for black drum

Rigging for black drum is fairly uncomplicated. In shallow water, a simple rig consisting of a 24” to 30” piece of 25 lb to 40 lb flourocarbon leader and a 2/0 to 5/0 circle hook is all that is required. A small split shot or even a small sliding egg sinker can be added is the current is strong. It is best for the bait to sit in one spot.

fishing rigs

In deeper water, the traditional Carolina rig is a good all around choice. It presents the bait on the bottom while allowing for easy weight changes as conditions change. This rig also works well for anglers surf fishing for black drum as well.

Black drum fishing techniques

If there is one single tip that will help anglers fishing for black drum, it is to keep the bait still and on the bottom. This applies to anglers fishing in both shallow water and in deep water. Black drum roam about quite a bit in search of food. The scent and action of the bait will attract black drum.

fishing for drum

It is best to fishing for black drum during periods of good current flow. This will help the scent disperse through the water and attract black drum and other species to the bait. Many anglers prefer a high, outgoing tide as it will stage fish on the edges.

Black drum can be difficult to hook, even large fish. They tend to “mouth” the bait and the take can be subtle. The best technique is to wait out the “taps” until a steady pull or weight is felt. Anglers should then reel fast and come tight. Circle hooks have become quite popular. They work well and drastically reduce fish mortality as most are hooked in the mouth.

Fishing docks and bridges for black drum

drum fishing

Bridges and docks are top spots for anglers to find black drum, They provide structure, shade, forage, and are often located in areas of high current flow. These elements combine to make docks and bridges prime black drum fishing spots. Many also offer anglers without a boat access to some good fishing.

In most cases, the best approach when fishing for black drum around docks and bridges is to fish the up-tide side of the structure. This is true for anglers in boats as well as fishing from the dock or bridge. The bait can then drift back naturally to the structure. Night fishing can be extremely productive. Anglers fishing for big drum, especially in strong currents, will need fairly stout tackle to handle a big fish.

Night fishing for black drum

night fishing for drum

Black drum are definitely nocturnal feeders. They use their sense of smell more that sight, so feeding in the dark is not an issue. This is mostly done near lighted bridges, docks, inlets and off the beach. Surf fishing at night for black drum can be very productive.

Passes and inlets are prime black drum fishing spots

Passes and inlets are natural fishing spots for black drum and many other species. They are passages that connect the open Gulf and ocean with the inshore bays. Fish will move through and stop to feed. Current flow, structure, and forage combine to make passes and inlets terrific fishing spots.

black drum fishing


Anglers fishing passes and inlets really need to pay attention to the tides. Fishing can be very difficult, and even dangerous, when the current is running hard. It will take a lot of weight to hit and hold the bottom. Therefore, the periods just before and after the tide change are usually the best times to fish these areas, as are days with weaker tides.

Black drum fishing tidal creeks and oyster bars

Black drum love oyster bars and tidal creeks. The reason is simple; food, and a lot of it! Oysters are home to a variety of crustaceans that black drum feed on. Drum will cruise the bars in search of food. Many anglers prefer the lower tide stages as that tends to concentrate fish on the edges. On a flood tide, drum will move up on top of the bars and scatter out. While they feed at this time, they are more difficult to locate.

fishing a shrimp on a jig head

For the most part, the best rig is a bait fishing on the bottom with little or no weight. This will present the bait naturally while reducing snags. Another effective approach is to fish a bait on a jig head. A jig head combines the hook and weight in a tidy unit that is easy to cast. This works especially well with a live shrimp.

Jacksonville black drum

Fish can be spooky in this shallow water. Successful anglers take care to be as quiet as possible and keep their offering as natural looking as possible. Anglers will often see the fish “waking” and “tailing” in the shallow water, similar to redfish. Most of these fish will be in the 5-20 pound range, so spinning tackle is usually the best choice. The mouths of little feeder creeks and cuts are terrific spots on the falling tide.

River mouths offer excellent black drum fishing

River mouths are top spots to fishing black drum. This is true for the smallest creeks up to larger rivers in huge estuary systems. Chesapeake Bay is a great example of this, many large rivers empty into the bay and black drum will school up in deeper holes. The combination of current flow and structure makes these areas productive spots.

Surf fishing for black drum

surf fishing tips

Black drum are a highly sought after species for anglers surf fishing. They are perhaps the largest fish a surf fishing angler will encounter, other than sharks. Heavy surf fishing tackle is used to heavy large baits out over the breaking waves. Black drum will also be found right in the “wash” close to shore, especially after a storm moves through stirring up the bottom.

black drum

Crabs are the top bait for anglers surf fishing for black drum. A fish finder rig works well with enough weight to hold bottom. Two hours before and after high tide is a great time to fish. Shrimp can be used,m especially for smaller fish. Black drum will also take cut bait meant for other species.

In conclusion, this article on black drum fishing will help anglers catch more of these tasty and hard fighting bottom species.





26 Productive Trout Fishing Tips

26 Productive Trout Fishing Tips

This post will list 26 productive trout fishing tips. Trout fishing is extremely popular throughout North America and the world. The many trout species are all beautiful fish that fight hard and often leap out of the water. There are multiple species of trout that anglers can catch. They are found from the tiniest streams to the largest lakes. Many different techniques can be used to successfully fool wily trout.

26 useful trout fishing tips

There are several species of trout that freshwater anglers can pursue. Rainbow trout and brown trout are the most widely distributed species, with brook trout being a close third. Most trout caught these days are stocked, however native trout are available in many locations. Cutthrout trout, lake trout, tiger trout, bull trout, and Dolly Varden trout are other, less plentiful trout species.

While there are multiple species of trout found in streams and lakes, they behave in a similar manner in most instances. Therefore, they will all be covered together when discussing trout fishing tips, unless otherwise mentioned.

trout fishing tips

Special thanks to Bry Sims for the great pictures and trout fishing tips! Bry is an expert trout angler and trout and salmon guide in Alaska. You can book a trip with her HERE. Anglers can follow Bry on Instagram as well.

General trout fishing tips

There are some trout fishing tips that apply to all species in most waters and many different techniques. These will help anglers fishing for trout anywhere achieve more success.

1)  Match the hatch

trout fishinh tips

No matter where an angler is trout fishing, it is best to try and imitate the forage that trout are feeding on. This really applies to all types of fishing, not just trout. A lure, fly, or bait that closely mimics the available prey will often be the most productive offering.

2)  Attractor flies and lures produce as well.

While it seems to contradict the previous tip, there are times when going with something larger and more conspicuous will fool a trout into taking the offering. Large attractor flies are famous for this, but the same applies to lures as well. If subtle presentations do not produce, try something else!

fly fishing

3)  Stocked trout feed differently than native trout

This is a VERY important tip, one that many trout anglers overlook. It is good to know if the water being fished has native trout, stocked trout, or both. Stocked trout are used to feeding on man made fish food. Therefore, commercially available products are quite effective. Also, stocked trout often seek their food on the surface. This is not to say that traditional trout fishing lures and flies will not produce, quite the contrary. This is especially true the longer a trout has been acclimated it’s new home.

trout fishing blue ridge

4)  Understanding seasonal changes when trout fishing

One of the wonderful things about trout is that they are active all times of year and can be caught year round.  Each season requires its own tricks and tactics. River temperature is a major factor in determining the activity level of trout. Very warm and very cold water can both make trout more lethargic and less likely to feed. Aquatic insects make up a large part of what trout feed on in river systems and the temperature of the river can make a huge difference in the number and type of insects hatching.  

fishing for brown trout

In summer months, trout may be feeding on both terrestrial and aquatic insects. Some Bry’s favorite fly combinations for river fishing in the summer are grasshopper or other terrestrial dry fly patterns with one or two wet fly droppers. In summer you also have a proliferation of hatching insects like salmon flies, green drakes, caddis flies, mayflies etc that may be used as your dry fly pattern or indicator fly. 

fly fishing for trout

Fishing dry fly/nymph combinations is extremely effective in the spring, summer, and fall. Spring and fall can also have the added bonus of being spawning seasons for many species of trout.  Egg patterns are trout kryptonite when salmon and trout are spawning and fall is Bry’s personal favorite time of year. Fishing for rainbows and Dolly Varden in northern rivers with spawning salmon in the late summer and fall can be amazing! Fall is also a time when many river systems water levels and temperatures stabilize.  Spring runoffs often create less than ideal clarity and often more water in general which disperses the trout.

trout fishing

 Summer and fall tend to bring more crowds to trout fishing river destinations and fisherman in search of more solitude should not overlook the advantages of fishing for trout in the winter. Many trout freestone streams and rivers that hold trout will slow down in the winter months, but that is not to say that the trout are not still feeding. Concentrating on fishing with nymphs beneath strike indicators on warmer winter days can make for wonderful fishing.  Tailwater sections of rivers that have stable water temperatures beneath dams can keep winter water temperatures consistent and fish may feed on hatching insects year round in these areas.  

5)  Ice fishing for trout

ice fishing for rainbow trout

Trout are comfortable and feed well in cold water. This is particularly true for brook trout and lake trout. Therefore, ice fishing for trout can be very productive in both streams and lakes. Jigs, spoons, and live and cut baits will all be productive. Unlike many other species, trout remain active under the ice and often cruise around quite a bit and are found high in the water column.

Capt Jim has written several comprehensive articles on ice fishing for rainbow trout, brown trout, lake trout and brook trout. Click the links to read them!

6)  Handle trout carefully!

brown trout fishing

Trout can be delicate and anglers should use as much care as possible when handling them for release. Smaller trout can be popped off using hemostats. Larger fished can be lifted briefly for a quick pic, but anglers should make sure to support the weight of the fish and revive it if necessary.

7)  Local knowledge is invaluable

While there are quite a few aspects of trout fishing that can apply anywhere, there is no substitute for local knowledge. This is especially true for fly anglers looking to match the local hatches and forage. Anglers can visit local shops and get some great advice while making a few purchases to support these small businesses.

trout fishing tips

8)  Hiring a guide is a great investment

A guided fishing trip can be expensive, depending on the financial situation of the angler. However, in most cases this is money well spent. Anglers may learn more in a few hours with a good guide than they might fishing alone in a year. It can really steepen the learning curve!

streamer fishing

9)  Tailwaters are terrific trout fishing spots

Tailwaters are the rivers below dams. These are fantastic spots for trout and many other species. The water flow and temperature can be controlled, often being tailored to ideal trout fishing conditions. Some of the top trout fishing spots in the world are tailwater fisheries. Anglers need to be careful and heed safety warnings as waters can rise very quickly.

Trout fishing in streams and small rivers

brook trout fishing lures

Many anglers associate trout fishing with streams, and for good reason. Smaller streams and rivers are perfect habitat for most trout species. They also are accessible to anglers without a boat.

10)  Light lines catch more stream trout

Trout in creeks, streams, and small rivers are usually quite spooky. The water is often clear as well. Lighter line and leaders will catch more fish. Many anglers are amazed at how many more strikes they get when going from 4 lb line to 2 lb line. The same applies to leaders for fly anglers.

brook trout fishing

11)  Fly anglers should use longer leaders and floating lines

In a similar vein to the previous tip, trout in shallow, clear water can be fussy. While fly anglers do not need to make long casts, a longer leader, up to 12 feet long, will definitely produce more strikes. This is especially true when fishing for brook trout in the tiny mountain creeks. While there are many line options, a floating line will be fine for this application.

12)  Spinners are the best river fishing lures

brown trout fishing lures

There are several types of artificial lures that will be productive when trout fishing in smaller streams. These include spinners, spoons, jigs, and plugs. However, in most cases, a small spinner is the best choice. Small spinners are light and land softly. They also snag the bottom less. Finally, they catch fish! Several manufacturers offer spinners with single, barbless hooks to comply with regulations and aid in successful releases. A 1/16 ounce spinner with a gold blade and brightly colored body is an excellent all-round choice.

Click to read more about fishing with spinners

13)  Fly choice for trout fishing in smaller streams

Trout in small streams tend to be very aggressive feeders as they often receive less pressure than fish in larger rivers do. Small streams tend to give trout very good access to terrestrial insects living along the river bank. Grasshoppers, ants, crickets, beetles, spiders, and a host of other tiny insects will often fall into streams and make excellent patterns for trout.  Small streams also have plenty of aquatic insects that live in the stream.  Mayflies, stoneflies, caddis flies and midges are just a few examples of insects that spend their larval stages growing and feeding in streams before hatching and mating at the end of their life cycle.  

trout fishing equipment

Using combinations of terrestrial and aquatic insect patterns in small streams can be deadly. Deeper pools in small streams can also be ideal locations for using streamer patterns as large fish in streams can become major fish eaters, often eating many of their cousins and even there own kind.  Other stream resident minnows like sculpins, dace, and trout fry can be imitated with a variety of streamer patterns and can be extremely effective in streams.  

trout fishing tips

Fish in streams tend to be wary and fly choice can be important when considering how to not spook your quarry. Bry often uses a highly visible dry fly when trying to make a delicate cast and presentation to finicky stream trout. It is hard to beat a good old fashioned grasshopper or ant pattern when stream fishing for trout. Favorite patterns for streams include Dave’s Hopper,  prince nymph, hare’s ear nymph, and brown sculpin.

14)  Trout holding spots

Locating trout in big and small rivers is based on several important factors. However, the most important component is a spot where can the fish access the most food while expending the least amount of energy. Feeding trout in both large and small rivers will often hold behind gravel bars, rocks, undercut banks or island seams where faster water is bringing food into breaks in the current. This allows fish to expend very little energy fighting the current while still having access to food that is drifting downstream.  

fly fishing for trout

Fish in small rivers will often hold in deep slow pools and runs below rapids. The bigger trout can usually be found in the very best pieces of structure that provide them with the first opportunity at food in a pool. Savvy anglers look to the head of the pool or riffle for the biggest trout. One exception to this rule is in shallow rivers where big trout need bigger, deeper pools and structure areas to feel safe from predators.

Big river trout that have started consuming large quantities of other fish will often reside in deep pools, moving into the shallows of slow water sections to hunt for minnows along the river banks. Winter trout will often move into slow moving water in the winter to conserve energy when less food is available.  

15)  Keep a low profile when fishing for trout

brown trout fishing lures

Anglers fishing the smaller streams and creeks should always be aware of how their presence will affect trout. They should walk quietly and avoid casting any shadows over the pool that is to be fished.

16)  Live bait can be effective in streams and small rivers

While most anglers opt to use either lures or flies when trout fishing in these smaller bodies, live bait, where legal, can certainly be used. Generally, bait works better in slightly larger streams and smaller rivers. Nightcrawlers and minnows are the top baits.

best 13 brown trout fishing lures

Trout fishing tips for larger rivers

Larger rivers provide anglers with some excellent trout fishing. However, they pose a few challenges as well. These trout fishing tips will help anglers be successful in larger waters.

17)  Safety first!

Large rivers will hold some trophy trout. However, they can unfortunately be deadly. Strong currents and deep water result in a dangerous situation. This is especially true for anglers wading. A PFD should be worn when wading big water. Anglers should also avoid fishing alone in these big rivers. Anglers in boats should exercise more caution as well.

trout fishing

18)  Beef up the tackle a bit

Anglers fishing these larger rivers can go heavier on the tackle than those fishing in smaller streams. The water is usually faster and not quite as clear. Anglers will need the heavier tackle as well when a big fish is hooked in the fast water. A 7′ medium light spinning rod with 8-10 lb line is a good combo. Fly anglers will do fine with a 7wt to 8wt outfit.

19)  larger lures produce in big rivers

Anglers will find that larger lures work better in the big rivers. These heavier lures can be cast farther, covering more water. Also, larger trout generally prefer larger meals. Larger spoons cast a mile and are very productive.

streamer fishing

20)  Streamers fool big trout for fly anglers

Streamers are very effective on trout in larger rivers. They can be tied to mimic bait fish, crustaceans, and insects. The Wooly Bugger is a classic streamer that will catch trout anywhere on the planet. Streamers are fished across and down current.

Anglers can read more about streamer fishing for trout in this article!

21)  Bait is productive in larger rivers

trout tips

Natural bait becomes a better option in larger rivers. Live baits such as nightcrawlers, minnows, and crustaceans are effective. Eggs are deadly, particularly in rivers that experience salmon runs. Rainbow trout grow fat and happy gorging on salmon eggs.

22)  Trolling and drifting produces trout in large rivers

Trolling is very productive for trout in large rivers. It allows anglers to cover a lot of water in search of fish. The same applies to drifting, which in a fast current is a similar thing.

Trout fishing tips in lakes

lake trout fishing tackle


Anglers certainly catch a lot of trout in lakes as well. In most cases, these are the largest specimens. Trout can grow large on the abundant forage. The primary challenge when fishing for trout in lakes, unlike streams, is that there is a lot more water for them to be found in.

23) Trolling is the top fishing technique for trout in lakes

Most trout caught by anglers fishing in lakes are done so by trolling. The reason is simple; it is a very efficient technique. Trolling allows anglers to present multiple baits and different depths in search of fish. This can be as uncomplicated as pulling a spoon behind a small Jon boat or trolling in the Great Lakes with downriggers. Spoons and plugs are the top lures used.

salmon fishing in Great Lakes

24)  Trout in lakes are constantly cruising

Unlike trout in rivers, which tend to hold in certain spots due to current, fish in lakes tend to constantly cruise in search of forage. Often times, they do so high in the water column. Many freshwater fish species relate to structure. For the most part, trout do not. However, they will hang near schools of bait fish.

25)  Fly fishing can produce trout in lakes

Fly fishing can be an extremely effective method for taking trout in lakes. Like trout in rivers, aquatic insects are often a very important source of food for trout living in lakes. When fishing in a lake you may see trout on the surface, actively feeding on emerging or mating insects. On warm summer evenings the dry and dropper approach used on rivers can be extremely effective on lakes.

fly fishing in lakes

It is important to note that the majority of trout feeding that takes place in lakes is beneath the surface and identifying the primary food source in any given lake is critical. Fresh water shrimp, snails and a host of other aquatic insects and fish can be imitated effectively with hundreds of fly patterns tailored for catching trout in lakes. Fishing with stationary nymphs below a strike indicator is a sure way to fool even the wariest trout in a lake. A more aggressive and highly effective approach is to slowly strip streamers and large nymph patterns at the depth that trout are feeding.  

Fly fishing a lake has the advantage of allowing a fisherman to present very small insect fly imitations that are often the primary source of food for resident trout. Starting with big attractive flies and then gradually reducing the size of the offering until a productive pattern emerges is an excellent strategy. This is particularly true on unfamiliar lakes.

26)  Live bait works well in smaller lakes and ponds

Many ponds and smaller lakes have been stocked with trout, particularly rainbow trout. As mentioned earlier, stocked trout are raised on man made food and respond very well to commercially available baits as well as eggs and live bait. Worms and nightcrawlers are quite productive.

In conclusion, this article on 26 productive trout fishing tips will help anglers catch more of these terrific freshwater game fish!




Top 15 Pennsylvania game fish species

Top 15 Pennsylvania game fish species

This post will list the top 15 Pennsylvania game fish species. Pennsylvania offers anglers some outstanding freshwater fishing opportunities, from tiny streams to the open waters of Lake Erie! They are listed in no particular order. Fishing tips and locations will also be included.

Pennsylvania is a land locked state. Therefore, it only offers anglers freshwater fishing opportunities. There are many different species available and quite a few different techniques that can be used successfully.

Top Pennsylvania game fish species

smallmouth bass fishing tackle and lures

The list of the top 15 Pennsylvania game fish species:

  1. Largemouth bass
  2. Smallmouth bass
  3. Walleye
  4. Rainbow trout
  5. Brown trout
  6. Brook trout
  7. Striped bass
  8. Bluegill and panfish
  9. Northern Pike
  10. Muskellunge (musky)
  11. Catfish
  12. Crappie
  13. Chain pickerel
  14. Carp
  15. Yellow perch

There are opportunities and waters for every freshwater angler in the state of Pennsylvania. Anglers can fish ponds for bluegill, fly fish streams for trout, cast lures for bass in lakes, or troll for walleye in Lake Erie. Many anglers practice catch and release, however many species are good to eat as well.

Pennsylvania largemouth bass

best soft plastic lure

Largemouth bass are a popular freshwater game fish species in North America. Pennsylvania offers anglers some excellent fishing for them. They our first on the list of the top 15 Pennsylvania game fish species. Lakes abound throughout the state, as well as smaller farm ponds and slow moving rivers. Bass are decent to eat, but the vast majority of largemouth bass are released to fight another day.

Michigan fishing

Most anglers targeting largemouth bass do so using artificial lures. Soft plastic baits are very effective! Plugs, spinnerbaits, jigs, spinners, and even flies will fool them. Anglers using live bait opt for nightcrawlers, crayfish, and minnows.

Pennsylvania smallmouth bass

Pennsylvania smallmouth bass

Smallmouth bass are a terrific game fish species and Pennsylvania has an excellent population! The cool, clear waters of the state are perfect smallmouth bass habitat. They are found in streams, rivers, and lakes, including Lake Erie. Smallmouth bass are fine eating, though most are released.

Pennsylvania smallmouth bass

Smallmouth bass are a bit of a mix between largemouth bass and trout. They prefer clear water with some current. Mid sized rivers like the Susquehanna are great spots to fish. However, they can tolerate warmer water than trout. The same lures and baits that produce largemouth bass work fine for smallmouth, though usually smaller in size.

Pennsylvania walleye

walleye fishing, a beginners guide

Walleye are a gamefish that are prized by pennsylvaia anglers. They are third on the list of the top 15 Pennsylvania game fish species. While they are a pretty fish that puts up a decent tussle, the reason for their popularity is the fantastic value on a dinner plate. Walleye are perhaps the finest tasting fish in freshwater! Lake Erie is the top spot, though they are found in many larger lake and river systems throughout Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania walleye

Trolling is the most effective method when pursuing walleye. It allows anglers to cover a lot of water in search of fish. Anglers can present multiple lures and baits at one time. Plugs are very effective, as are nighcrawlers on a harness. The famous Erie Dearie was invented there. Drifting works as well and anglers can even cast lures in shallow water. Ice fishing for walleye is also popular and productive.

Pennsylvania rainbow trout


Many anglers associate Pennsylvania with trout fishing, and for good reason. The state offers countless miles of productive trout streams along with lakes and larger rivers. Pennsylvania has an aggressive stocking program to keep the waters full of fish. There are areas of puts intake fishing where the trout are meant to be harvested. This usually occurs and bodies of water that get too warm in the summer for trout to survive.

Rainbow trout are one of the most recognizable game fish species in the world. They are also widely distributed and are the most popular of the major trout species. Many anglers fly fish for rainbow trout, but lures such as spoons and spinners are effective, as is live bait. Rainbow trout are very good to eat.

Minnesota trout fishing

Some rainbow trout exhibit a particular behavior. They move out into the open waters of Lake Erie, then return to their native creeks and rivers to spawn. This same behavior occurs when rainbow trout move out into the open oceans as well. These fish take on a distinct color pattern and are known as steelhead trout. They are large and strong and put up an incredible fight.

Pennsylvania brown trout

best trout lures

Brown trout are plentiful in Pennsylvania as well. They are the largest of the three main trout species and can tolerate water that is a bit warmer. They grow large in lakes and are found in most of the same rivers and streams as rainbow trout. Brown trout are heavily stocked. Like most trout, they are excellent to eat.

Brown trout are caught by anglers casting flies, lures, and live baits in creeks, streams, rivers, and lakes. They inhabit many of the same waters as rainbow trout. The largest brown trout are caught by anglers in the open waters of Lake Erie. These trout feed heavily on the abundant forage and grow quite large.

Pennsylvania brook trout

brook trout fishing

Brook trout are the smallest of the three trout species, and perhaps the most beautiful. They have a bit of a cult following for anglers seeking “native brookies”. Brook trout can be found in the tiniest of streams, often high in the mountains. They are stocked as well in the larger, more accessible waters. They are terrific eating and are often fried whole for breakfast.

Pennsylvania striped bass

striped bass fishing tips and spots

Striped bass are a fishing management success story throughout the United States. They are a species that can tolerate salt and fresh waters and our next on the list of top 15 Pennsylvania game fish species. Striped bass are an open water fish and were perfect for the large, deep reservoirs. Herring and shad were stocked as forage and striped bass have thrived. Trolling is the preferred method, though casting lures can be productive as well. Live herring and shad are terrific live baits. Striped bass grow large, fight hard, and are very good to eat!

Pennsylvania bluegill and panfish

Sarasota freshwater fishing

Bluegill and other panfish species may be the most popular and sought after of all fish. There are several reasons for this. They are abundant, widely distributed, fairly aggressive and easy to catch, great fun to catch, and are fantastic eating! Pennsylvania offers anglers some very good bluegill and panfish fishing opportunities.

Many panfish are caught by anglers using live bait such as worms and crickets. Fishing a live bait under a float is a time proven successful method that anyone can do. Bluegill and panfish are most often found in fairly shallow water, around weeds, boat docks, and fallen trees. Warmer months are generally best, but they can be caught by anglers ice fishing as well.

Pennsylvania northern pike

spinnerbait fishing for pike

Northern Pike are an apex predator. They are one of the largest of all freshwater fish species in Pennsylvania offers anglers excellent pike fishing. Northern pike prefer cooler water temperatures which many Pennsylvania lakes offer. They do not prefer areas with high current flow, instead preferring to ambush prey on shallow water flats. Submerged weed beds in particular are prime northern pike fishing spots.

Most anglers fish for Pike with artificial lures. Spoons and large spinners in particular are very effective, as are plugs and even soft plastic lures. This allows them to cover a lot of water and searching fish while also appealing to the aggressive nature of pike. It’s northern pike continue to feed when the water is cold, they are prime target for anglers who enjoy ice fishing. A live bait fish such as a sucker is the top choice. Pike are bony, yet are very good eating for anglers who take the time to learn how to clean them.

Pennsylvania muskellunge

river fishing for musky

Many anglers consider muskellunge, also known as musky, to be the ultimate freshwater fishing challenge. They did not earn their nickname “a fish of 10,000 casts” by accident. Musky fishing requires dedication as well as the ability to cast heavy artificial lures for a long period of time in search of a feeding fish. However, the effort will pay off in the fish of a lifetime. Pennsylvania offers anglers some very good musky fishing in both lakes and river systems. Almost all musky are released unharmed.

Pennsylvania catfish

channel catfish bait

Catfish are another popular and plentiful fish species found in Pennsylvania. Some anglers failed to consider them a game fish, but this is a mistake! Catfish are aggressive and grow quite large. The reputation of being bottom feeding scavengers is not deserved. Catfish much prefer a fresh or lively bait and are regularly taken by anglers fishing for largemouth bass with artificial lures.

There are two main catfish species in Pennsylvania; channel catfish and flathead catfish. Channel catfish are smaller and much more plentiful, being available and most waters that are warm enough to support them. They have a varied diet and can be caught on just about any live or cut bait. Flathead catfish grow larger and are more solitary, thus less numerous. They are primarily taken by anglers using large live bait fish.

Pennsylvania crappie

top freshwater species

Crappie are the largest member of the pan fish species and are found in decent numbers throughout Pennsylvania, though they are not as abundant as some other states. Crappie fishing has become quite popular throughout the United States, particularly due to the advent of tournaments. They are normally found in large schools and are most often sought after in the spring and early summer. Live minnows and small jigs are the top baits used to catch them. Crappie are fantastic eating!

Pennsylvania chain pickerel

top freshwater fish list

Chain pickerel are basically a smaller version of northern pike. They have all of the same aggressive tendencies and behaviors, just in a smaller package. They are great fun when caught by anglers using appropriately light tackle. Like the other members of their family, they are bony and very few anglers keep them to eat. Shallow, weedy lakes and rivers are prime spots to catch chain pickerel.

Pennsylvania carp

fishing for carp

Carp are another fish that often suffers from an unfair reputation. They are bottom feeders that swim about feeding on whatever they run across. However, they grow large and can put up a fantastic fight for anglers using light or medium spinning tackle. Most carp are caught by anglers bottom fishing with corn, dough balls, and nightcrawlers in slow-moving rivers and in some lakes and ponds. They are not considered to be good to eat.

Pennsylvania yellow perch

yellow perch fishing

Yellow perch are smaller cousins to walleye, though they are often included in the panfish family. For the purposes of this list, they are listed separately due to their habits. Yellow perch are most often caught in the open waters of lakes in fairly deep water. Lake Erie in particular is a prime spot to target yellow perch. They also make runs up into tributary creeks in the spring to spawn. Yellow perch are beautiful fish that put up a great little battle on ultralight spinning tackle. They are a very popular species for anglers ice fishing as they still feed well in cold water. Many anglers consider them to be the best tasting freshwater fish that swims!

In conclusion, this article on the top 15 Pennsylvania game fish species will help anglers catch more fish in the Keystone state!