We are going to have a really nice weekend for fishing. We’ll, at least half of it when it comes to wind. A cold front is on the way and that should pick up the breeze on Sunday into the early part of the week. Be sure to check the forecast before heading to those offshore spots.
Capt. Alex Dolinski of Spot On Charters fished with artist and fishing enthusiast, Jacki Shea of West Palm Beach, Florida. She caught and released 10 redfish from 18 to 26 inches using cut ladyfish and shrimp on a 3/0 circle hook. The baits were free lined around the oyster bars and grass flats inside of New Pass in Estero Bay. Jacki also caught and released 2 permit at 18 inches in length using shrimp on a pink 1/4 ounce jig head worked slowly around the oyster beds in the Rocky Bay area.
Capt. Steve Sewell of Hawgwild Charters noted that the inshore redfish fishing gets better every day with lots of fish in the slot and plenty of over slots. He also reported that live pilchards have been tough to get and not really worth going after right now. No problem. Ladyfish are plentiful in the passes, so catch a half dozen, put them on ice and head to your favorite redfish spot. Use a 3/8 ounce jig head with a leader of 25 to 30 pound test and cast it as close to the bushes as possible. Up under the branches is even better. Let the scent of the ladyfish work for about 20 minutes and that ought to do the trick.
Capt. Greg Stamper of Snook Stamp Charters said that redfish are just about everywhere. They don’t call it “Red October” for nothing. Over the last week reds up to 35 inches inches could be caught as schools of fish could be seen pushing water on flats and along shorelines. Snook are definitely on the move and getting a good feed in before heading back toward there winter haunts. Most snook will make that move when we get our first true cold front to push through. Seatrout are moving in everywhere and in some areas they even hit bare hooks worked aggressively under popping cork. Jacks, pompano, bluefish and spanish mackerel can be caught both along the beaches and inside of Pine Island Sound. Look for them busting up on minnows. Kids love the action so head that way if you see the water churning.
Capt. Larry Hendricks of Tall Tail Charters sent in this fishing tip about the importance of leader and weight size when fishing offshore. Regardless of the depth it is imperative that you pay attention to the speed of the current and the drift of your chum slick. If the chum is going away from the boat quickly you need to match the size of your weight to the depth and distance you want the bait to drift. He often starts with a 1/8 ounce egg sinker rigged knocker style and then goes up or down depending on how long the bait drifts in the chum slick. Too light and the bait stays above it, too heavy and it sinks right through the chum getting fewer bites because the fish are further back. Experiment until you get the right drift and the bites will come. Leader size is also important. You need to match the leader to the fish, the water clarity and the bait size. Too heavy of a leader can kill the action of a small bait, but if you go too light you will lose fish to either structure or abrasion. Thirty to forty pound fluorocarbon is what Larry uses for mangrove snapper, but he’ll drop down to twenty pound if the fish are especially finicky or line shy. Leader length should be experimented with on days when the fish aren’t cooperating. Longer can be good in the world of snapper fishing. When free lining baits over reefs use a variety of baits such as strips of squid, pilchards and shrimp. Also chum some live or crippled pilchards and small thread herrings. Lastly, when free lining baits over a reef it never hurts to put a grouper rod or two straight down. They don’t get in the way of the snapper fishing and you can usually add something nice to the fish box.