Things have been interesting on the angling scene lately. After many years of studying the habits and patterns of the saltwater species in this area, they continue to be an enigma.
We all look forward to the fall runs and bites as some of the best action of the year, but this season has been a strange one. Unseasonably hot air and water temperatures punctuated by a couple of unusually early and strong cold snaps has the water temperatures in a yo-yo pattern, disrupting most normal patterns. Because of that, anglers need to go with the flow, be creative and expect the unexpected at times.
A case in point would be getting snook and reds to cooperate. In the past couple of weeks whitebait has been an easy mark. Plentiful bait in a wide variety of sizes is available on the grass flats and has been very productive for trout, mackerel, kings, bonito, bluefish and snapper. While live pilchards are widely regarded as the premium bait for snook and to a lesser extent redfish, they have not been as productive this season. Fresh cut ladyfish, snakefish,mullet, and pinfish have out-produced live offerings both in numbers and size of reds and snook for me in the past few weeks.
While using cut bait has always been somewhat successful in deeper cuts and holes at the bottom of big tides, my clients and I have been "chunking" cut bait right up in the bushes at high tides with good success.
Trout season closed on Sunday morning for two months. Considering how hard the trout population got hit locally from the red tides of 2004, I do not see a problem with the closure even though the specks are making a strong comeback.
I do wish that the closure were at some other point on the calendar for our district as November/December are two of the premium months for trout. For pure sport you cannot beat heading out early or on a cloudy day and toss around small top water plugs over broken grass beds in four to six feet of water. Non-stop rod bending is almost a given.
It remains to be seen if the big pelagic blitz is going to happen here or not. So far the action has been sporadic near the beaches. There is plenty of time left and quite often the big push does not come until turkey day. The bulk of the migration sometimes occurs way offshore of our coast.
Reports from the Panhandle around Destin indicate they are still enjoying hot action with kingfish and cobia. That bodes well for us for a good November and maybe December.
Good luck and good fishing. Be careful out there!
Capt. "Zach" Zacharias
Docked on Palma Sola Bay at Parrot Cove Marina/Sunny Shores
115th Street West and 36th Avenue, Cortez, FL 34215
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