Captains' Confidential

Before you try gator hunting, arm yourself with our expert advice.

Chum Time
Guide: Captain Chris Newsome
Homeport: Gloucester, Virginia
Experience: Owner of Eco-Fly Guide Service
Tactic: While slowly patrolling a fishy area with his trolling motor, Chris Newsome chucks out handfuls of live peanut bunker and looks for the trout to react. If a half-dozen injured bunker twitching on the surface don't attract attention, Newsome can eliminate that area.

Search Party
Guide: Captain Ross Whitworth
Homeport: Gulf Shores, Alabama
Experience: Owner and lead guide at Jesse's Trout Lodge
Tactic: When Ross Whitworth finds that the speckled trout are scattered, or when he's working structure that is spread out, like docks and piers, he likes to slow troll a live shrimp. To rig up, Whitworth hooks the shrimp through the horn with a No. 4 Gamakatsu live-bait hook tied to 18 inches of 12- to 20-pound leader material. He then pinches a No. 12 split shot to the leader one foot above the hook. While he's searching an area with jigs or plugs, Whitworth will troll multiple baits.

Feel the Noise
Guide: Captain Steve Bono
Homeport: Lake Charles, Louisiana
Experience: Runs Bayou Charter Service; 25 years fishing Calcasieu Lake
Tactic: For Captain Steve Bono, nothing beats topwater plugs. He carefully chooses a plug to match the conditions. When the water is rough and the wind is howling, he uses a noisier plug, such as a MirrOlure She Dog. When the water is calm, he employs a more subtle lure, like a Heddon Super Spook. "Vary your retrieve," he says. "Try fast, try stop-and-go, try steady until you find what they want."
- Ric Burnley