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N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources

NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Marine Fisheries - Fishing Spotted Seatrout

Marine Fisheries


The style of hook Captain Dubiel uses is a shorter shank and has a wider gap which has a tendency to hook the trout more in the jaw than deep hook the trout. It’s not a bad idea to make a jig hook barbless if you are strictly in a catch-and-release mode, Dubiel said.

Dubiel almost always uses circle hooks for live bait fishing. Some think circle hooks will not catch a speckled trout as well as other hooks, but that is not the case, he said.

 Because a speckled trout has a relatively light strike compared to other fish, some people incorrectly feel that the fish just picks at the bait, Dubiel said.

With its anatomy of eyes far forward on the head and a large mouth, speckled trout attack the bait, but you are not going to feel a hard strike because he is not swimming away with the bait.

 

Dubiel said when the speckled trout will make a short controlled strike, his mouth opens and acts like a vacuum cleaner where the bait is sucked in; he is not burning any extra energy to swim off with the bait. It’s not that the bait isn’t in his mouth; at that point, the bait is completely immersed in the back of his throat in a relatively small pressure plate. Trout are a sensitive to the resistance of live bait or the taste of metal in their mouths, and they will open their mouths and expel the bait.

Trout that are hooked in the external, soft part of their mouth typically are a result of people waiting too long to set the hook. Anglers mistakenly think that they are hooking the fish that way because the fish isn’t eating the bait, but the reason is completely opposite. With a speckled trout, if they eat a live minnow or shrimp on a circle hook, then try to expel the hook, it will hook them in the jaw and usually in the more muscular part of the jaw. For this reason, you will seldom miss a fish when fishing with live baits on circle hooks, Dubiel said.

“There shouldn’t be a concern with the use of circle hooks when speckled trout fishing,” Dubiel stated.

Dubiel said that from a guide’s point of view, one of the hardest things that he has to overcome with a client is having them recognize the bite and then appropriately set the hook.

“Folks that I would typically use live bait to fish with may not always be the most skilled angler, so they are going to have the most difficult time with that,” Dubiel said.

Going to circle hooks is not only a good thing for the fish, it improves the percentage of fish these people catch since they are not required to set the hook, he said. If the line gets tight, all they need to do is start reeling in because the fish is hooked. If they are using live shrimp on a cork and the cork goes under, they can start reeling because the fish is hooked.

“Circle hooks not only improve the survival of the fish, they improve the amount of fish that you will catch,” Dubiel said.

If you are using a circle hook for fishing for speckled trout, you will want a light wire, wide gapped circle hook which is appropriate for a lot of inshore fishing, according to Dubiel. Unless you are using live shrimp, there is no need to have a barb on the circle hook, he said.

Fish have a very difficult time shaking free from a circle hook. Barbless makes it easy to back that hook out of their jaw and release the fish quickly. The only reason to leave a barb on a circle hook would be when using shrimp as bait since the shrimp has a tendency to kick.

“He’ll kick off if there isn’t a barb there,” Dubiel said.

N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries • 3441 Arendell Street • Morehead City, NC 28557 • 252-726-7021 or 800-682-2632

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