Fall is in the air and the migratory run of bait fish has begun along the east cost. Trophy Redfish are staging for their annual mating ritual and that means "Big Fish" on light tackle or fly. Although the water clarity is somewhat less desirable it is kind of hard to miss these 3 to 4 foot pumpkins in shallow water. Top water lures will draw some very explosive and aggressive strikes from these fish when they are feeding well. My most effective hard bait is the Skitterwalk in white or bone color when conditions allow, the pop shadz by Z man when the grass is thick as it can be rigged weedless allowing you to stay in the strike zone for longer periods of time. When the bite slows down and the fish begin to get picky a fresh blue crab, large chunk of mullet or lady-fish is a good choice. For the live bait enthusiast pin-fish or finger mullet will often be the ticket.
Every year seems to bring different challenges to this fishery from angler pressure, be sure to take in consideration of the condition of the estuary and catch one or two fish from these breeding schools and move on to allow them to complete the cycle of life. Spend the time to revive the fish and if gut hooked, simply cut the line. Imagine someone holding you underwater for five minutes and the amount of stress your body would encounter. Don't chase the fish for hundreds of yards, just be patient and allow them to become "happy", happy fish eat, running fish are not "happy".
Many of these fish will be foraging on the schools of silver mullet and finding good concentrations will often enhance your opportunities at landing a trophy. The shallow flats are still producing slot sized to just over slot redfish as well as some very nice Gator trout. Look for patchy bottom with sand holes and matted grass for find many of these fish. Small soft plastic's in white early and switching to darker colors after the sun gets high have been most effective for my clients. Darker shrimp patterns have been more receptive for my fly anglers and very effective.
On October 22, 2016 Capt Mark Wright and I will be at Fish on Fire for the AFC Annual Gumbo Wars, this will be our 3rd year at this event, we took 2nd place our first year for peoples choice. Along with some award winning Gumbo we will both be on hand to answer any questions you may have about fishing the space coast. So stop by and fill your belly with some Authentic Cajun Gumbo. As always feel free to contact me if I can help you have a more productive day on the water, until next month "Tight Lines and Screaming Drags"