Soon we will enter our transition into Fall fishing.
It’s still hot but the moderate temps are now in sight. Soon our water temps will start to fall. Ever so slightly, but every falling degree enhances our catching. If you’re out on the water look for the appearance of terns; also know to fishermen as mackerel birds. They indicate it’s time go mackerel fishing. Mid September they are going to let us keep a couple of grouper again and we can expect some mango snapper to add to our bag also. Inside snook are going to be closed this year but redfish are open. Trout are open till November. Pompano and other migratory fish can show up any time and should linger until it gets cold usually around Thanksgiving. With school starting it is a great time to get out and enjoy good action with the least boaters! I have been fishing some and we are catching fish but it has been hot by mid-day. We get out early and stop about lunch time. Soon the shorter days will help drop water temps and stimulate our fishing.
Mackerel; both kings and Spanish are due before you know it. The big Spanish Mackerel can drop in anytime now. Watch for the birds and baitfish schools near shore. We usually start finding fish up along the rocky reefs just off of Venice Beaches. Start looking for activity like striking fish and screaming birds as soon as you clear the Venice Jetties. Schools migrate South with every weather system. We find fish just off of Englewood Beaches also, all along Mannasota Key. Rough North West winds stir up inshore waters and drive fish off shore also farther South. So after a hard blow the fish at Venice should drop back in around Boca Grande’s Beaches. Most guides castnet and fish live minnows which are great; if you can catch and carry them. Hardware also works great and you do not need a live well or time catching baitfish. Spoons, jigs, and lure all produce excellent catching just master one or the other. Do not mix them up in your pattern because they all work best at different speeds. The best way to get set up is to stop in at your local bait shop when they are not busy so they can help you select the proper rigs for your gear. Don’t be stingy because you will suffer cut offs by toothy macks. Carry several spares! Also carry plenty of ice to keep your catch fresh.
Observe other boats catching fish but don’t get in their way if you want them to assist you.
Grouper are scheduled to open September the sixteenth so do not miss out because we do have plenty of grouper to enjoy. Fish should still be out in deeper waters but not too far or hard to find. Trolling hard bottom areas allows you to locate productive spots and catch fish. Natural baits are great if you have productive areas to plunder. All of our artificial reefs, wreaks, and hard bottom areas all hold good grouper and snapper. The more popular spots are fished harder so the fish are smarter. Keep your rigs as light as you can to get fish up clear from the structures. Even popular stops like, Venice hard bottom and Boca Grande Pass holds big grouper and snapper; plus still a few tarpon.
Tarpon are not everywhere like our Summer fishing but you can enjoy some hot action if we find them. Plenty of fish remain in the area but they can be anywhere from Charlotte Harbor thru Boca Grande up to Venice. They don’t sit still and we can’t run that much every day! When we do find tarpon they usually bite.
Snook are closed but are fun catch and release. While some fish will still be around Venice Inlet and Stump Pass many are moving inland now towards Charlotte Harbor as well as the creeks and rivers. Try closer to the passes now and look inside farther later on. Minnows are great but have been small for snook. Pinfish and lures will produce some nice fish. Snook are not thick but we do have some fish to enjoy and repopulate locally.
Redfish are looking brighter every week now. No easy fishing like the days of old but this is the time of year to get on a big bunch if it’s going to happen. We are catching a few more fish and of all sizes. The bigger fish are eating pinfish under rattle corks. Lures are great if you have confidence in them and can work around the floating grasses. The points and oyster bars of Charlotte Harbor have always produced good fish this time of the year. Schooling reds are usually over the slot sized but fun. They start out up in the Harbor and bays working towards the Gulf to join up with spawning stocks off shore. Don’t be surprised to see a giant red cloud of monster reds when mackerel fishing because they are around the baitfish schools now.
Trout are doing great. We can usually catch a nice mess for dinner and a bunch of smaller specks to share hope for even better future fishing. It is nice to have bright spots; please let our Florida Fish and Wildlife officials know we want trout open year round now! Trout closes November and December so enjoy the good fishing while we can. Look for trout on the deeper grassy edges like off of Turtle Bay Bars. Check out any baitfish schools in current eddies now also. The Cape Haze Point area can be awesome now. The small minnows are perfect trout baits; just use smaller mesh nets. Small pinfish have produced bigger fish for us recently. Use rattle corks and make some noise to attract hungry trout.
Pompano are a favorite of mine and can show up around our passes any time later this month. Venice Inlet and Pier offer perfect spots to catch golden nuggets and learn more about fishing them. I check in both to know when fish are in my area. All our Gulf passes can hold pompano. I like the lead Doc’s Goofy jigs in white, chartreuse and pink. Add a piece of fresh shrimp or a sand flea to sweeten your offering. I try sharp rod hops with a short drop to the bottom between hops. Remember that pompano do not sit still very long; expect them to move in and out frequently. Be prepared to travel to keep up.
Enjoy this transition period before colder weather sets in into November. Fish are biting