We set the clock back this month and made the days shorter, but there’s still plenty of prime time fall fishing to enjoy.
The flounder bite is strong on the outside edges of grass flats, sandbars and in sandy potholes throughout the flats. Most of these fish will be heading out toward the Gulf of Mexico before long but, for the time being, there are lots of opportunities to catch a few in the shallows. I usually try to hook a few flounder while primarily targeting trout or redfish and typically use a jig setup with various soft plastic bodies based on how the fish are reacting. Since flounder prefer to lie on the bottom, I like small, quick-sinking soft body profiles such as eels and flukes but shad tail and swimbait styles of bodies also work well. As the flounder transition out to the gulf, they will get stacked up in the pass and will be far easier to target with live baits on bottom rigs. Keep in mind that flounder get heavily pressured during this time of the year and consider keeping a few and releasing the rest.
In many of the same areas where I've caught flounder, I’ve noticed far more pompano cruising, jumping and biting my hook. They like to navigate the sand bars just off the grass but will move onto the grass to look for food. A small jig will get you some bites but it’s hard to beat a flat-lined live shrimp for this particular type of fishing. If the current is swift, then you might want to add a small split shot to slow its movement but use as little weight as possible to maintain the desired effect. You’ll probably notice that most of these pompano will be bigger than those typically caught in the surf.
Speckled trout have been stacked up on grass flats with good broken bottom, primarily around slightly deeper potholes. Since they are concentrating in small areas, you might experience long stretches without finding fish but, once you catch one, be sure to work that spot thoroughly (with topwater baits or jigs) because there are usually more in the area. These days, most fish are in the 15-18 inch range but, due to them gorging over the past few weeks, all the fish are fat and heavy for their size. There are some big fish mixed in with the group but it's sometimes difficult to get the slot fish to leave the lure alone long enough for the bigger fish to get a shot at it. I also find big trout mixed in with redfish schools this time of the year, so keep an eye out for those opportunities while you’re out fishing.
The redfish bite is fantastic and there are a lot of ways to catch them. One of my favorites is poling the shallows for cruising or laid-up fish. Poling is not the easiest way to fish but if you take your time and make solid presentations, then you can really put a hurting on them. As a matter of fact, I prefer poling over blind casting this time of the year. For starters, the autumn waters are clear in areas that are typically not clear during the rest of the year so, if you want to sight fish those areas, now is the time to do it. Secondly, clear water means the fish tend to be slightly more skittish so you definitely don’t want to land your lure right on top of them or they will bolt. If you wait until you see the fish and know the direction it’s moving, then you can strategically maneuver the lure into a spot where you won't spook the fish but will attract its attention and maybe get a bite. Small spoons, soft plastics and hair jigs are all great lures to get even the spookiest fish to eat.
As always, if you have questions about what’s biting, how to catch them or want to book a trip, give me a call or shoot me an email. Good luck!