It's almost over, the hot days of summer that is. With the arrival of September, it's only a few weeks before we should break out of summers steamy hot days and transition to the cooler days of autumn. This is great news for fishing around Southwest Florida for many reasons.
At the top of the list, you would have to place relief from the summer heat. Days will become less humid with a slight drop in temperature. After the "dog days" of August, this will be very welcomed. Don't get me wrong - it will still be hot on many days, but it will become much more tolerable as the month progresses.
Also, the summer thunderstorm pattern will begin to fade away, opening up the door to spend longer periods of the day on the water. It's been hard to get in a full day fishing with the heat and storms, but that will slowly change.
While visiting Sanibel, Colleen O'Keefe spent a beautiful morning fishing with her father Sean and grandfather John in Pine Island Sound. Pictured is Colleen with a fat trout that was invited home for dinner. They were fishing near Redfish Pass with Captain Bill Russell.
Just as anglers enjoy the change of seasons, look for fish to also respond as they become more active, resulting in improved fishing. With a drop in water temperature, you can expect fish to exert more energy and feed more consistently throughout the day. Of course its fishing - there are days when you can't buy a bite no matter what, but your chances for success are tipped in your favor.
Offshore, as the water temperatures drop look for fish to move closer to shore in shallower depths and migratory species to begin heading south through our waters. Grouper and snapper fishing could be pretty good without spending a fortune on fuel, plus the powers to be are going to allow us lucky recreational anglers a two month open season on gag grouper. The season opens Sept. 16 and runs through Nov. 15 and I believe covers both state and federal waters.
Grouper regulations are really getting difficult to keep track of. Please check the latest regulations at myfwc.com/fishing/saltwater/regulations/groupers/gulf-grouper/ to make sure for yourself. Don't take my word for it - they may change again in the next two weeks.
Mackerel (both Spanish and king) should return to the near gulf in good numbers. Look for the Spanish from the beaches out to several miles, watch for birds and feeding fish. The larger kings will be found over areas with some type of bottom structure including artificial reefs, wrecks and rocky bottom. Trolling large, deep diving lures is a good way to cover a lot of ground and put both grouper and kings in the box.
For the inshore angler, it's a month filled with opportunities. The beginning of autumn is always a great time to fish in southwest Florida for the big four (snook, tarpon, redfish and sea trout) inshore species. As the shallower inshore water cools these gamefish will get much more active, look for explosive strikes on top waters lures with all four feeding much more aggressively.
Tarpon are not in the huge pre-spawn schools of spring, but there will be plenty around for those that put in the time. Redfish should be in large schools prowling the inshore waters. From now until the first real cold front (most likely late in October) will present us with our best red fishing of the year. Large fish will gather in schools of up to several hundred and on the right day can give you a fishing experience you will never forget. Look for them moving along the shallow edges of bars as they push a wall of water and crashing any baitfish in their path. Try to get well ahead of the moving fish to intercept their path. If you don't spook them, make a long cast ahead of the lead fish and hang on. Most are way oversize but they sure are a blast to catch. Large schools of oversize redfish may also be sighted offshore in tight groups around bait schools.
The bigger sea trout will begin moving back into shallower water to feed; this is a great time to work a top water plug across your favorite trout flats. Plenty of keeper size trout will also be caught under the endless schools of baitfish, look for birds and surface activity over grassflats or along bar drop-offs.
Snook season will remain closed in our waters for at least another year. Snook are on the rebound from the devastating kill from the cold January of 2010 and they will remain catch and release only until the state determines the numbers have increased to a sustainable level to again have a season. With that said, snook will begin to leave the beach and Gulf passes and move back inshore on the flats around oyster bars, shorelines and other structures. In the past, this has been one of the best months for snook fishing. But with the numbers down and season closed, most anglers will target other species.
Plenty of other fish - including Spanish mackerel, sharks, jack crevalle, bluefish, pompano, flounder and cobia, just to name a few - plus the best inshore mangrove snapper fishing of the year are all on the list of what we should expect to catch in the upcoming month. With so many fishing opportunities and weather that's more enjoyable for fishing, let's get out there and see what we can catch!
If you have a fishing story or for charter information, please contact us at 239-283-7960 or www.fishpineisland.com. Have a safe week and good fishin'.