Silver trout (Cynoscion nothus) are abundant and make for a great target species for novice and professional fisherman alike. They also make for excellent table fare and are easily caught using both artificials and live bait. This article will be a complete guide on catching Silver trout and the recommended seasons, gear, bait, and tackle. Before we dive into the details, I would like to tell you a little about the silver trout AKA white trout.
Silver Trout Size & Color
We consider the white trout to be the little brother of the larger speckled trout. They are much smaller in size, rarely exceeding one pound.
Silver trout are beautiful fish. Usually, they display a grey back, silversides, and a bright white belly. Their fins are yellow with a darker dorsal fin. There may be small rows of dots along the sides, but they are not nearly as prevalent as the speckled trout. Silver trout are often confused with sand trout; they look very similar but differentiated by their yellow tint and heavier bodies. Silver trout are the smallest of the saltwater trout species.
I always found it interesting that more professional guides or recreation fishers do not regularly target silver trout. They don't have the same exciting gamefish reputation as the BIG three (Snook, speckled trout, and redfish), and I imagine that is primarily due to their smaller stature. However, silver trout feed very aggressively and are a ton of fun on light spinning tackle. They also make for excellent table fare even though you have to catch a dozen or more fish for a substantial meal.
"Silvers are often seen as a byproduct catch." According to Capt. Chris. However, when clients want to put meat in the boat, there is nothing better. The minimal regulations and flaky white meat make trout ideal candidates for a hot skillet. I always say, even though silver trout have no size or bag limits, be sure to take what you need and conserve for another day.
Best Fishing Gear for Silver Trout
Light spinning gear is ideal for saltwater trout fishing; although they are tenacious feeders, they rarely grow to more than a pound. My preferred setup includes an Okuma Helios HSX-30 spooled with 10lb 8x Eminent Braid. A seven-foot medium-fast Okuma rod will provide the sensitivity and backbone necessary to boat all of the trout your heart desires. A light leader is vital for me, and a 15-20lb fluorocarbon leader works like a charm.
Catch Silver Trout on Live Bait or Artificial Lures
- Live Bait - Live bait fishing always increases your odds of catching and using their favorite crustacean; the shrimp will surely get the job done. I find that free lining shrimp is a very effective technique, but I also like rigging shrimp to a Mission Fishin jig head to get down to the depths or the optimal strike zone. Silver trout like to gather in schools; once you find one, more should quickly follow. Small live greenbacks will also strike their fancy. Presentation is vital; your bait should appear as natural as possible.
- Artificial Lures - My favorite way to locate and fish for silvers is to toss around a white artificial grub, a Down South lure, or a Gulp shrimp. Typically I equip the soft plastic with a 1/8 to 1/4 ounce Mission Fishin; the size is determined based on water depth. Be sure to let the lure sit; you would be surprised how many bites come when the lure is lying motionless on the ocean floor. Be sure to also work lower in the water column, and trout will often hang around deeper drops and points. I will discuss finding them more in the next section.
Locating Silver Trout
Unlike Speckled trout who take refuge in the shallower grass flats, I find that silver trout like to hang around deeper drops, channels, points, etc. If you can locate an excellent channel with structure, whether it be natural or man-made, there will be a good chance that you will find the silvers. In Tampa Bay, a fire sure way of locating trout, especially in the winter, is to fish the lights under the piers at night. The lights attract an array of smaller baitfish, which in turn attract larger hungry fish.
The Skyway piers will most definitely hold fish this time of year; you can also locate silver trout around the Gandy boat ramp. Look for deeper holes around 10 to 15 feet in depth, and keep an eye out for bait on your fishfinder. Casting a search bait, such as an artificial lure, will help you quickly locate a hungry school of fish.
Crispy Oven Silver Trout Recipe
As I stated above, silver trout make for excellent table fare, preparation is easy, and there are thousands of delicious recipes. Have a look at this recipe that will indeed have the family smiling ear to ear.
Prep time is approximately 20 minutes—Bake fish for four to six minutes per 1/2 inch thickness. Preheat over to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
- 1 pound of fresh silver trout fillets
- 1/4 cup of milk
- 1/3 cup of flour
- 1/3 cup of dry bread crumbs
- 1/4 cup grated parmesan
- 1/2 cup dried dill
- 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 tablespoons of butter or margarine
I prefer to use fresh fillets, not frozen, rinse the fish fillets, and pat dry. Cut into four servings. Add milk to a shallow dish, place flour in another container. Combine the parmesan, dill, breadcrumbs, and pepper in the third dish.
Dip the fresh fillets in the milk and then into the flour, then dip back into the milk and finally into the combined breadcrumb mixture. Place fish on a greased baking sheet, bake uncovered at 450 degrees for four to six minutes, or until flaky.
Silver trout are not the largest, fastest, or best game fish, but I think they deserve more recognition than they currently get. They make for the perfect catch for beginners or professionals alike; they taste superb and reproduce quickly. What are your thoughts regarding the smaller silver trout? Do you specifically target them, and if so, what is your go-to gear, bait, and method?