Trout fishing

Lawson Strock, 11, of James Island caught this estimated 30-inch spotted seatrout from an impoundment on James Island. After a quick photo, he released the big trout. Photo by Hunter Conner

The wonderful thing about fishing is that you never know. When you cast your line and bait or lure out in a saltwater impoundment and a fish picks it up, it could be almost anything. Here in the Lowcountry it might be a redfish, a trout, a flounder, a bluefish, even a crab.

In 11-year-old Lawson Strock's case, it turned out to be the fish of a lifetime, a spotted seatrout that he and his friend Hunter Conner, who netted the fish and took a photo, estimated to be 30 inches long.

Lawson said he has fished the lake a lot since he and his father, Derek, moved there earlier this year. Lately, though, he said he hasn't been out as much because "it's been really good and the fishing has not been that good." Still, that didn't stop him from loading up his kayak with several rods and reels and paddling to a favorite bank to fish.

"I've caught a lot of different species out there. I've caught big sheepshead, big redfish, big trout, a lot of pinfish, ladyfish, croakers and spots. I'm pretty sure there's a few bluefish there. I also caught a tiny jack crevalle in there," Lawson said.

The Haut Gap Middle School student said his previous biggest trout was about 18 inches long, and when this trophy came to the surface he thought it was just another 18-inch trout.

"About five minutes into the fight it came up to the surface. I saw the thick lateral line and thought it might be a snook. Then it was fighting like a redfish. It wasn't until I got it pretty close before I realized how big it was and that it was a monster trout before it darted off again," Lawson said.

He had a net with him but it was stashed higher up on the bank and he couldn't back up without breaking off the fish. Fortunately, Hunter was nearby and able to net the fish for him.

Hunter took a few pictures and then they released the fish.

Lawson said neither his father, nor grandfather or other family friends, including some dedicated trout anglers, have ever seen a trout as large as his trophy and "were all super-excited."

"I knew it was a great breeder, and before I left my dad told me not to keep any fish," he said. "I just knew we did not have a great, great population of trout and I felt it would be better to release it so we could have a lot more trout."

According to the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, depending on the size of the female, spotted seatrout produce anywhere from 10,000 to millions of oceanic eggs when they spawn. The S.C. Department of Natural Resources says trout spawn from April to September. Winter kills can occur in extremely cold weather. A recent example was in the winter of 2017-18 when water temperatures along the coast plummeted into the low 40s and shallow tidal creeks dipped even further.

America's Boating Club

America’s Boating Club Charleston will hold a boating safety class on Jan. 9 at 1376 Orange Grove Road, Charleston. The class begins at 9 a.m. and ends around 4 p.m. Successful participants earn the S.C. Department of Natural Resources Boater Education Card. The cost is $25 for adults and youth 12-18 are free. Call 843-312-2876 or email lynes@tds.net.