by Capt. Greg Stamper
September should give us the last bit of the hot days, transitioning SWFL toward a Fall pattern soon. Don’t be fooled it’s still going to be hot most of the month, however by the end of the month we should be blessed with temperatures beginning to cool off a bit.
With that said, fishing early in the mornings or late in the evenings near sundown is still the way to go. As we approach October, we’ll begin to see a transition as water North of us begins to cool. As the gulf water in the panhandle begins cooling off, fish move South into our backyard following massive schools of baitfish. This is an exciting time to be in South Florida as everything is active and the fishing will be very good.
Snook will still be on the beaches and near the rivers and cuts, fattening up trying to stay clear of anglers that harvest them. 28-33” is the slot size and one per person is the limit assuming you’ve got your snook stamp. Many anglers fish snook as catch and release these days regardless, so until the water temperatures begin to drop significantly, handling these fish properly is very important as hot water tires fish quicker. Keeping a snook you’ve just caught in the water and reviving them well before release is a good practice verse becoming shark or dolphin food.
Juvenile tarpon is still one of the top billings here in Estero bay and the adjacent areas through this month. These feisty 10-40lb balls of energy can be a blast on light tackle and jump around much more than the grown-up versions. You can target these tarpon with swimbaits, flies, and of course white bait for the next two months or more. Pay attention for finning or rolling fish as you can pattern them in the same areas for days at a time on similar tides. When fishing for juvenile tarpon I typically go with 15-30lb leader, based on how clean the water is your fishing. It's better to get the bite and get broke off verse no bite at all, besides if there chewing you can always up the leader a bit and do it again.
Redfish will continue to get better and better as we move closer to "Red October". They'll be a big target in October for us, as they typically begin to school up late September thru November. Redfishing can be very good in September and can be targeted many ways. The easiest tactic is putting out spreads for reds. Basically 3-4 lines thrown out along mangrove edges, cuts, and oyster bars with a variety of baits like shrimp, pinfish, cut ladies and crabs. Once you know where they’re at and what they’re eating your good for days.
Top water fishing especially on incoming tides is a blast. There's a variety of different types of top water lures that you use in different ways, walking the dog is my favorite as you never know what may hit it next. Finally twitch baits and paddle tail soft plastics are a lot of fun for anglers that cast well. Work them on open flats that have potholes early in the tide, and along mangrove shorelines when the tides higher, you'll find this can be very productive.
If it’s constant action your looking for with kids or anglers that are less patient, our passes, bridges, and docks will give lots of options. Snapper fishing can be excellent as well as other good eats like pompano and trout. Typically, a simple 1/4oz jig tipped with shrimp will work just fine allowing anglers to cover lots of ground. For those that aren’t casters using a simple popping cork with a live shrimp or white bait can keep people entertained. Other options nearshore for many of the same species can be the same simple jig dropped down to any of our nearshore wreaks and reefs with a live shrimp hooked through the tail. These reefs can be a great place to see how many different species one can find in a trip. It’s not uncommon to catch a dozen different types of fish doing so.
Tight lines, Capt. Greg Stamper