Fall means football and county fairs to a lot of people but, for me and many other area anglers, summer’s end means incredible fishing. Cooling temperatures and lots of bait have the fish looking to fatten up for winter.
Inshore on the flats, trout and redfish have gone into “all out eat mode” and can be caught on a variety of live baits and artificial lures. Two things I always look for when locating fish are big mullet and moving water. You can find moving water in a lot of places – the mouths of creeks or bayous, on points and in areas there the bay narrows or becomes shallow. I like using lures early in the morning when trout and redfish are out prowling the flats searching for mullet, shrimp, pilchards and the like. The darker hours of the early morning also make it difficult for the fish to get a good look at the bait, so you get a lot more strikes based on movement versus appearance. Topwater baits have been fantastic early, then I switch to jigs or live baits later in the day.
Shallow to medium depth structures are still holding redfish, mangrove snapper, flounder, sheepshead and black drum. The structures that I fish most frequently are docks, seawalls, bridge pilings, submerged tractor tires and sunken boats. Although you can fish all of these with lures, you will catch a wider variety of fish using natural baits. Redfish, snappers and flounders will eat just about any kind of live bait but if you’re targeting sheepshead or black drum, then shrimp or small crabs are the ticket. As temperatures continue to cool, you can also expect to start seeing gag grouper hanging around in some of these same areas – especially the deeper structures. Big live baits or trolling plugs will entice these aggressive fish to come out and eat.
Nearshore in the gulf, there is a fantastic kingfish bite. They are relatively easy to catch, make lightning fast runs and can grow to be quite large in size. Kingfish have a mouth full of razor sharp teeth, so wire leader is a must. The most effective ways to target them are trolling and flatlining live baits. When trolling, I suggest using lipped plugs, skirted lures or live baits and pulling them around any floating objects such as weed lines, structures and around bait balls. When flatlining, anchor your boat near one of these area and throw big, live sardines or cigar minnows and let nature take its course.
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.