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Florida Fishing Report
| Snook Open
September 1st marks opening of the fall
snook season for harvest. Snook are diurnal fish
meaning that their movements are
centered on the changing periods of the ratio of light to dark. While the water
temperatures remain high, the snook have begun their retreat to classic fall surroundings
as the hours of light succeed to darkness. The migration back to the east is a slow and
gradual process. For this reason, September will find the fish spread out throughout their
range. However, though a few fish will remain on the Gulf beaches, efforts are best placed
around the passes, outside flats, and canals- creek-river mouths.
Classic snook spots include flats adjacent to deep water that feature good current flow and that are highlighted by salt n pepper bottom (minimum of 3 feet when flooded), cuts, oyster bars, rock jetties, rip raff, docks, points, canals, rivers and bridges. With this area now hosting many new snookers, the best spots of yesteryear will see plenty of pressure. The end result is less fish and fish that are in no way as responsive to our offerings. I have come to accept that I can no longer catch the fish as I did when pioneering snook in this area many moons ago. By searching out new areas by trial and error, I have been able to stay in the game. The best tip I can give any angler is to spend the time to find new places. Without question, the most productive fishing you will find anywhere in the world, are spots you find yourself. Early September will not find snook huddled in masses, as we will experience in October, November and possibly into December. Employ a run and shoot offense to reap this most prized gamefish the next few weeks.
Redfish will begin to school in the following weeks. The flats adjacent to the passes and those just east will be most productive from Anclote south. To the north, small bayous, creek mouths, sawgrass points, cul-de-sacs, points, small keys, and rocky outcroppings are the places to focus your attention. A stealth approach is required in getting into these areas, as these fish are very aware of the lack of water above their bodies. The top of the incoming tide will see the fish tight to the shoreline. The latter end of the low will find the fish dropping out on the flats immediately outside of the prior flooded productive spots. Expect to encounter snook, trout, mangrove snapper and jacks on the same spots---that is the beauty of fall flats fishing.
On the subject of other than glamour species, mango snapper and Spanish mackerel are gorging on the scaled sardine and threadfin herring hatch. It seems that you can not even chum for live bait without having either or both of these species interrupting your efforts. These fish offer a good plan B when all else fails on the flats or during traditional slow periods experienced during weak tides on the quarter moons.
Scaled sardines are the insurance policy for success on all of the game fish described above. Despite complaints of the unavailability of bullet sized baits preferred for larger gamefish, they are available with a little confidence and perseverance. Y2K has seen a good hatch and the small baits are available about everywhere. The key to getting the larger ones is to get outside the tiny ones and chum on the edges of the drop-offs. Be patient and ready for the larger crickets when they come by. When they do, get them! You may not see them again. You still will encounter some net wreckers, but thats the cost of business after the spawn The sardines are very prolific and in just a few weeks the baits will be of choice size and more available to everyone.
The big tarpon bite experienced over the last month has been dwindling the past few days. The staple menhaden have moved to locations that have been unfounded by the few specialist of summer tarpon. The hard bottom areas of Tampa Bay that were producing the phenomenal tarpon bite the last six weeks are yielding more sharks and catfish that were non residents during the heat of the action. The fish continue to keep a low profile as they have all during this particular year. I remain certain that the fish are still present. However, it has now become more of a challenge that may not be suitable for the less than die-hard. Naturally this could change any day between now and the first fronts of winter. At minimum, the big bridges of the Bay will hold enough to make your efforts worth your wild, particularly at night.
So what was in the bag this week? The answer is a little bit of everything. Snook, redfish, trout, cobia, grouper, mango snapper, cobia, jacks, flounder, mackerel were all taken on my trips this week. On two recent trips to the upper Suncoast flats, we have had encounters of the tarpon kind with fish in the 40 to 80lb. range while fishing a favorite snook spot. Fish were free jumping, sliding just feet past the boat, and chasing my live chum off the bow. This is rare for this time of year in this particular area. However, this is the not this first time I have witnessed this on several trips at the location in years past. I feel very confident that then when the water drops just a degree or two, I will experience a bizarre tarpon bite in this location as they are definitely holding there. These tarpon will provide the 4th element in securing a fall grand slam (tarpon ,snook, redfish, trout) and naturally I will oblige.
The big bite of the fall season is just ahead. If you have not secured your dates, now is the time.
Screaming Drags and Tired Arms!
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