Water temperatures have cooled somewhat with a light cold front last week. Temperatures on the flats around midday had cooled to about 84 degrees. Morning water temperatures at the same areas reportedly were around 79 degrees.
Some fish are beginning to move from deeper water and at times can be found in a couple feet of water.
The bait continues to get thicker off the beaches and there have been reports that kingfish are biting just a few feet off the beaches.
So let the fall kingfish run begin.
Capt. Mark Howard of SumoTime Fishing Charters said that with the first passing of a cold front Sept. 30 the fall fishing pattern has begun to take hold. Shiners are all over the flats, on the beaches and around the piers, he said.
“I have been netting shiners floating over grass beds in 2 feet of water,” he said. “Some of the best fishing of the year is about to happen.”
He said speckled trout fishing has been dominating the inshore action with 2-hour rallies common. The key for Howard is to work an area and zero-in on the keeper-sized fish for some rod-bending action and nice fillets for dinner. He said mixed in with the speckled trout have been some nice redfish.
“The redfish have been scattered this past week,” he said. “I have been catching them in potholes, on the edges of grass flats and tight to docks. With the dirty water due to the heavy winds, sight-fishing for redfish has been tough.”
The beach fishing for Spanish mackerel has been hit-or-miss, he said. “Look for diving birds to give up the locations of the mackerel schools to put you in the middle of the action,” he said.
Capt. Logan Bystrom said the bait has been very thick all over the beaches, and that’s where there’s been a bunch of Spanish mackerel, sharks and kingfish. Bystrom said he heard some anglers have caught them a few miles off the beaches. He said there are still large schools of redfish and trout fishing has been good in the morning when it’s cooler.
Capt. Warren Girle said he’s been fishing inshore and early-morning trips using small Rapala Skitterwalk have produced a few dozen trout before the sun comes up. That when he switches to using jigs for trout and redfish. He also has been catching some redfish in north Sarasota Bay on chunks of ladyfish. And he’s catching bluefish. “I was up near the Skyway near Egmont Key and it’s loaded with bonito,” he said. “That water’s cooling off a little bit.” He said the days are getting short and he’s enjoyed top-water fishing early in the morning. “As long as you get out there really early in the morning, you get that first hour and a half of daylight and there’s no one out there,” Girle said.
Capt. Mike Greig said he’s been catching tarpon along the beaches, along with Spanish mackerel, kingfish and sharks. In the bay, he reported plenty of trout. He said redfish have slowed a lot. “The kingfish numbers aren’t that big,” he said. “I’m hoping for some good weather to get out and get them.”
James Followell from the Sunshine Skyway Bridge south fishing pier said he’s seen some keeper grouper reeled up, as well as pompano, Spanish mackerel and a few keeper snapper to 11 inches. He said anglers have been catching pompano and jack crevalle.
Capt. Larry McGuire of Show Me the Fish Charters out of the Cortez Fishing Center said he had one trip last week that was productive with gag grouper, which he said are starting their fall feeding pattern. “These bad boys are back in town in the 50-60 foot depths and have a voracious appetite,” he said. He said the gag bite will improve and reach a peak at Christmas time.
“We are also catching red grouper, mangrove snapper, triggerfish, amberjack, sharks, barracuda and hooking up some large goliath grouper,” McGuire said, adding there are also lots of
Spanish mackerel off the beaches.
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