The first cold fronts of the season have just dipped into Florida, fall is in the air. From this point forward fishing on the Space Coast will be in a transition phase. The inshore and nearshore waters are full of baitfish making their migration south for the winter; and nipping at their heals are tons of redfish, trout, tarpon, snook and sharks.
The majority of time this past month was spent fishing for Redfish. September through November is the peak spawning time for redfish in East-Central Florida. There are several large schools of GIANT redfish in the Mosquito Lagoon, Indian River Lagoon, and at Ponce Inlet. These fish have two things on their mind, spawning and eating. With that in mind you’ll appreciate this being one of the easiest times to catch a GIANT bull redfish over 20lbs. At Ponce Inlet drifting live baits like blue crab and mullet will score multiple fish. In the Lagoons these schools will ambush various artificial lures like topwater plugs, spoons, soft plastics, and flies. The annual fall cycle of higher tides and northeast winds have raised water levels 1-2’ on the flats in the Lagoons. This has opened up lots of new feeding grounds scattering smaller redfish in the backcountry and against shorelines. We’re spending the first few hours of the morning working congregated bait pods with plugs and soft plastics. Once the bait begins to scatter on the flats, we are shifting gears to shoreline sight fishing or locating laid up fish on the grass. Soft plastic jerk shads, DOA shrimp, and Strike King swimbaits are the top lures of choice. That exact pattern yielded lots of caught redfish for me at the recent IFA Redfish Tour event a couple weeks ago and a top 25 finish. My fly anglers are having the best luck using my personal hand tied crab and shrimp patterns, along with bendbacks, spoon flies, kwans, and redfish blossoms.
Tarpon fishing is beginning to wind down inshore as most of the migrating adult fish are moving out of Ponce Inlet and into the Atlantic Ocean. We’ll still find scattered action inshore for smaller resident juveniles, however, throughout the fall and winter. But the best tarpon action is nearshore off the coast of New Smyrna Beach and Daytona Beach. Tarpon have been on fire over the past couple weeks in the 50-70’ depth range, along with scattered fish shadowing bait pods moving down the beach. We jumped 25 or more fish from 80-150lbs, landing about half of them. We've landed several fish over 180lbs with a couple pushing the 200lb mark. While fishing the nearshore waters we always pick up a bunch of Sharks in the process, they are mixed in tight with the bait pods and tarpon. We caught numerous blacktips, bulls, and sandbar sharks lately...too many to count. All of the sharks have been in the 3-6’ long range.
The fall is also a great time to again spend the day targeting Snook. Snook are all to well aware that this is generally the last month of the year to stock up on baitfish. The higher water has many fish up in the mangroves and rocks waiting to ambush the next bait pod that swims past. These smaller fish are a sucker for a DOA shrimp skipped up into the pockets. Bigger fish are migrating back from the beaches towards the backcountry. Docks along the ICW or the jetties at Ponce Inlet provide stopping points for them along the way. Fish jigs with a soft plastic paddle tail, bucktails, or a DOA terroreyez as many of these big fish are hanging around the bottom. A mullet freelined in just about any creek mouth will be a sure thing. Speaking of soaking finger mullet in a creek mouth, it’s time to start capitalizing on the biggest Flounder of the year. A mullet on a fishfinder rig sitting in creek mouths or along the edge of the ICW will score quality flounder from now through the end of the year.
Speckled Trout fishing is still steady around the bait pods during the first half of the morning. When we have been targeting any trout we have been throwing a combination of plugs and soft plastics. And we did pretty well last month with a few fish over 7lbs. Once the bait starts to spread out on to the flats, we have found trout laid up in sand spots near the edges of flats and sand bars. With the first cold fronts now starting to dip into Florida, we are only a month or two away from the best trout sight fishing of the year. Then it will be the prime time to take your chances casting to 10lb+ trout laid up on the flats.
Be sure to check out the October issue of Florida Sportsman magazine. Larry Kinder, an outdoors writer, did an article about me and strategies for fishing Mosquito Lagoon and the New Smyrna backcountry during the fall transitional period. Check out page 42.
Limited dates remaining for October and November. Call now to reserve a date. Read my fishing charter page to view the top reasons why you should book your trip with me today. I look forward to fishing with you soon…386-212-4931.