Labor Day weekend typically signifies the start of football games, the end of the busy tourist season, the early stages of the fall bait run, and all fish in Florida stuffing themselves before the colder weather begins to arrive next month. While visitors to Central Florida are slowing down, the fishing here in September certainly isn’t. It’s one of the best opportunities of the year to score on a quality backcountry super slam of Redfish, Speckled Trout, Snook, and Tarpon.
September for Redfish means the beginning of spawning time. This is perhaps one of the easier times to catch a redfish in the 15-40+lb range around Central Florida. Schools of GIANT redfish are congregating in select areas the North Indian River Lagoon and Ponce Inlet. At the Inlet drifting live blue crab, mullet, croakers, and pogies can pay off with double digit catches of 40”+ fish. In the Lagoons, massive schools of redfish will often crush topwater plugs, spoons, soft plastic, and flies. Remember to land these fish as quick as possible and release with care because these fish are spawning. Plenty of smaller redfish in the 3-10lb range are scattered all over the flats. There’s a fairly consistent pattern for these redfish right now that produces good numbers on artificial, one that I will be more willing to share with others once the IFA redfish tour departs town in a few weeks. Until then, light tackle anglers are having good success with topwater plugs, spoons, soft plastics and live bait. Fly anglers are having the best luck with my hand tied crab, bendbacks, redfish blossoms, shrimp patterns, and bunny flies.
This is typically the last peak month to target Tarpon on the inshore waters around Central Florida. Loads of tarpon from 5-100+lbs are scattered throughout the Mosquito Lagoon, Indian River Lagoon, and around New Smyrna Beach. These tarpon have provided opportunities in a variety of ways depending on their locations including laid up fish, schooling fish, and quick rollers holding on the bottom. Remember these fish are keying on bait this time of the year so diving plugs, DOA baitbusters, swimbaits, and live bait like mullet or pogies will be the top producers. As the waters begin to cool and the bait begins to thin out by the end of this month the big tarpon over 50lbs will begin to move out of the backwaters, into the Atlantic, migrating south for the winter. So if a big tarpon is on your list of species to catch, this is the last best month to try for one in Central Florida.
Snook season starts today, making slot-size fair game again. We’re beginning to enter my most favorite time of the year to target snook, fall and winter. Lately we’ve been beating the bushes (aka, working the mangroves), dock structures and bridges around Edgewater, New Smyrna Beach and the backwaters behind Ponce Inlet. We’ve been finding scattered small snook upwards of 6-10lbs, catching several each day. DOA shrimp, MirrOlure plugs, and big swimbaits have been my top producers on light tackle. If you’re lucky enough to spot laid up fish a red and white redfish candy fly or EP fly will draw attention. The big females are staged at Ponce Inlet spawning and gorging themselves on the bait run. Drifting pinfish, mullet, and croakers along the north jetty will take it’s share of oversize snook that must be released. Speaking of snook, I recently returned from a week at Captiva/Sanibel Islands where I caught bunches of snook on fly and light tackle at the beach. The highlight of the trip, however, was watching my 8-year-old son land his first fish on fly tackle.
Speckled Trout fishing is still steady on shallow edges of flats early in the AM and in deeper water later in the day. Topwater plugs are great for watching the exciting bites on top, soft plastics worked subsurface, however, are putting fish in the boat on nearly every cast. Bigger trout upwards of 10lbs are prowling the bait pods early before slipping off to deep water after sun-up. A seaducer or bendback fly will take trout working the bait pods early and a shrimp fly will take smaller fish laid up in sand spots later in the day. When the water cools off in a couple months we can again expect the best trout sight fishing of the year.
Still some good openings in September with scattered dates available in October. 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.