Simply put, it's a great time of year to fish. Why? Variety! In a single day, it is possible to catch three or four nearshore species as well as an inshore slam. Species would include mackerel, snapper, kingfish, bonito, snook, redfish and seatrout, among others. Kingfish and large bonito have already started to show themselves in water as shallow as 15 feet as it appears much of the local bait is residing there. Several weeks ago, kingfish made their first appearance, moved off when 20 mph north winds blew through, but were then back.  It is likely that these fish are now here to stay until waters become cool enough to push them south for the year. The most effective method to utilize when chasing kings is known by many local anglers...slow trolling anything from a pilchard to thread fin herring, to mullet, to a blue runner to Spanish mackerel. On windy days, the motors can be shut off when drifting downwind as all that's required is that the bait is swimming naturally and is not being dragged. It doesn't have to be trolled quickly. This technique allows for large areas to be covered. If confident that fish are in the area, another approach can be used.  Drop anchor, put out a chum bag and liberally pitch live whitebait off the stern. Usually, if the location is good, boils will begin to appear on the down tide side of the boat and the action should begin. Be prepared for the sharp teeth to be encountered and run a 12 inch leader of AFW tieable wire in the 40 lbs class range.  If fish are a bit equipment shy, use a single hook.  at the end of the leader. Otherwise use a stinger rig to solidify all hookups.  If fish are seen boiling but no bites result, sometimes it makes sense to try a long shank hook on fluorocarbon leader.  yes, breakoffs  are much more likely but it's the last resort to see if the fish will bite. Large Spanish mackerel and bonito will be caught using either of these methods as well.  For the snapper, look for hard bottom areas, go down to light tackle and small hooks (8 foot leaders of 15lbs test and #2 hooks).

Big Kingfish, Bonito and Spanish Mackerel

 

On many days, as the suns get higher in the sky, this near shore action may lighten up, but there are other options. With water temps in the low seventies, small to medium snook, plus a few keepers, can be found inshore.  There may be a few strays on the beach but many of these fish will be up inside the sound, around mangrove islands and in the backwaters.  Be armed with plenty of medium to large pilchards as chumming is the best way to find the exact location of these fish.  A snook that eats a chummed bait will, in almost all cases, eat the next bait that lands near it. This fishing is very visible and very enjoyable as fish can often be seem approaching and eating the bait. 

On the higher tides, redfish are still in the mix. Fishing mangrove shorelines and inter-coastal islands will produce fish on a very wide range of baits.  Cut baits and pinfish, weighted down with a #2 split shot,  and secured with a 2/0 circle hook is really all that's needed however. Pitch these baits into mangrove pockets, deeper holes along the shoreline and to the edges of oyster bars for best results.

Great Fall Snnok and Trout Fishing

Within a couple of weeks, or when the next significant cold front shows up, the large seatrout that St. Joseph's Sound is famous for will likely show up. When these fish first arrive, and the water is still relatively warm, these trout can sometimes be caught very effectively and jigs and even topwater baits.  As things cool down, the jigs continue to produce , but the topwater bite will slow. As with so many of our local gamefish, it's hard to beat a medium sized pilchard when trying to get a trout on the line.  It's a primary food for them when this bait is around and it will typically out fish everything else. A more expensive but also effective approach is to stop as a local marina and buy select shrimp, as this bait is high on a trout's preferred food list as well.  Trout will eat the smaller shrimp, but so will everything else, so it's best to spend the money for the larger ones.  Good luck and good fishing.

 

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