Fall fishing kickoff: reds in bays, snook in passes
By Paul Roat
Fall has arrived and fishing is getting even better.
Tarpon are still being caught off the Sunshine Skyway Bridge in Tampa Bay.
Danielle Pechous, 14, of Holmes Beach, caught thi 15-pound snook while fishing with dad Tom in Anna Maria Sound earlier this month.
Redfish are starting to school in all the backwaters. Trout action is also good in the bays.
Snook are thick in the passes and off the beaches as they continue their migration into the bays.
Cobia are still a bit elusive in the Gulf of Mexico, but snapper, grouper and an occasional kingfish catch make up for the cobia-lack.
Watch the water temps and wait a bit for the kingfish run to start.
Danny Stasny at Island Discount Tackle at Catchers Marina in Holmes Beach said tarpon are still hitting by the Skyway Bridge on threadfin herring, as well as early mornings in Longboat Pass. Redfish are a good bet in all of the bays, with gold spoons working best for the big ones. Fly fishers also are having a ball with red catches, Danny said. Moving a bit west, most of the passes still have lots of snook along the shores. Farther offshore, there are a few cobia, plus lots of snapper and grouper. And kingfish are starting to show up, especially in the shipping channel leading into Tampa Bay. He said he pulled a 40-inch king from the water last week and expects more and bigger to come.
At the Rod & Reel Pier in Anna Maria, Tom Cassetty said anglers there were catching lots of too-small snook and too-big redfish of late. Legal snapper are a good catch at the pier, as are flounder. The big Goliath grouper is still hanging out around the dock, too.
At the Anna Maria City Pier, Jesus Rosario said it’s all mangrove snapper, redfish and Spanish mackerel and some tarpon are being hooked, jumped and lost.
Capt. Mark Howard on SumoTime Charters said he’s finding beach and nearshore fishing action picking up as fall weather starts. “I caught some cobia off the artificial reefs this week,” he said, “and a friend caught a couple of kingfish off the 1-mile reef.” He’s also catching snook off the beaches.
Capt. Larry McGuire of Show Me The Fish Charters said to expect “a cornucopia of action that is sure to produce tasty treats in October.” Warm waters of the Gulf will begin to cool as our days get shorter, sending most species into a feeding frenzy. Gag grouper have started migrating closer to shore anywhere there are rock piles or ledges. “Look for them in about 25- to 100-feet of water, and they will be hungry, getting fat to prepare for the winter.” He’s also catching red grouper at the 100-foot depths in the Gulf. “The fall kingfish run should start any day now,” Capt. Larry said, “even though there have been some smoker kings around all year. The fall run can get wild and crazy, especially when you chum a large school. It’s like trick-or-treats while bottom fishing for grouper and snapper.” He also is catching mangrove and yellowtail snapper, as well as amberjack at about 150-foot depths. He expects cobia to start to show up soon, plus mahi-mahi and blackfin tuna.
Capt. Zach Zacharias on the Dee Jay II out of Parrot Cove Marina in Cortez said even though the weather remains very summerlike there are some very subtle changes. “It took all summer, but now that it’s over we’re seeing some normal afternoon and evening thunderstorms in the coastal region.” Heavy rains help to drop the water temperatures a bit, but the biggest change is the length of the day. “When the daylight hours start to shorten, it triggers most of our fish species to begin schooling up, moving around, and most importantly, to feed very heavily in preparation for a spawn in some cases, or in anticipation of some lean winter months ahead.” He’s been putting his charters onto Spanish mackerel and expects king mackerel to show any day. And he expects backwater fishing for trout, redfish, snook, flounder, snapper and sheepshead should to heat up.
Good luck and good fishing.
Fishing news and photos are welcome and may be submitted to Paul Roat by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.