Somebody just back of you while you are fishing is as bad as someone looking over your shoulder while you write a letter to your girl. - Ernest Hemingway
It's chilly in the mornings. Mom called and said its 33 degrees and snowing in Minneapolis. I wore jeans and socks the other day for the first time in six months. Groupers and Cobia are being caught in the Intracoastal Waterway. Hey, that's enough indicators to prove that it's finally fall around here. Time to get out there for some of the best fishing of the year. Let's look at what is working for anglers in our area.
Inshore - The Sheephead bite is hot right now. Live Fiddler Crabs seem to be the bait of choice for some anglers, while others are using live Shrimp and frozen Sand Fleas. Local dock and bridge pilings as well as around docked boats are the hotspots for these delicious fish. Cobia and Rays are hitting live Greenback Minnows as well as Pinfish using a float set 3-4 feet down. Redfish and Snook are still active but they seem to be much more affected than other game fish by the cold fronts that are moving through our area. The day before a front moves in, they are actively moving and feeding, but when the front gets here, they literally shut down and refuse to bite. There's that barometric pressure connection again. Here's a sign of the fall season. I actually had anglers coming into the Bait House yesterday and complain that all they were catching off the piers were small Groupers. Go figure!
Offshore - Its King Mackerel time again! The Kings are back in full force. There seems to be two methods of angling that is working for many of the anglers that we have talked to. The first is to slow troll live bait. Many are using smaller Spanish Mackerels, Blue Runners, and Grunts as bait, trolling at 2.5 mph with planers, 20-30 foot monofilament leaders, and trailed with a 1-2 foot wire leader. Other anglers are using the same line set-up but using King Spoons, and crank baits at about a 4 mph speed. I spent last Wednesday and Thursday working Clearwater Artificial Reef. On Wednesday, after catching a lot of undersized Gag and Red Groupers, I rigged up a #2 planer, 4 feet of monofilament leader and a silver King Spoon. After trolling at 4 mph over the reef a short way we hit a keeper size Gag Grouper. Fifteen minutes later I had a second one. On Thursday we tried again, but this time we used 15-foot monofilament leaders. No fish! We cut the leaders back to 4-foot again and instantly hit fish. Also, while the silver colored King Spoon caught Groupers, the same spoon in a green reflective color caught Spanish Mackerels. Give it a try and see what you come up with.
Remember to stop by the Bait House for all of your bait and tackle needs or to just share a fishing story with us. We have dock access for your boat. We have live shrimp, pinfish, fiddler crabs, as well as white bait. We also carry a full line of frozen baits and chum. I can be emailed at Jim2988@msn.com and as always, Good Luck Out There! Jim can be found daily at the Bait House - Clearwater Municipal Marina.
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