September is here, the weather is beautiful, and about the only thing more active than the Tropics on the East coast is the fishing here on the West coast of Florida. September looks like it will once again offer up fishing that will be hard to top. From the inshore flats, beaches, and passes to distant offshore Pelagic hunting grounds and everything in between fishing is better than ever!
Believe it or not, waters have cooled since mid August. This gentle cooling cycle is a signal that fall will be here soon. It was significant enough to get the snook fired as they start their slow move inshore from their beachfront spawning grounds. As these fish begin to make this slow and steady migration they will have only one thing on their mind….FOOD! This move usually takes well over a month, and sometimes several months depending on the weather. This begins first be schools of beach snook moving closer to the passes. As they move towards the passes they will find that conditions are not quite right for moving all the way inshore, and food is plentiful in close proximity to these funnels in and out of the Gulf. This triggers a “holding pattern” to take effect. The fish will move in and out of the passes with the tide, feeding on good moving water. Any significant break in the current on the inside, outside, or right in the Gulf passes will be an ambush spot for a hungry Linesider. Stump Pass in Englewood, Boca Grande Pass, and Venice Inlet are all great areas find this specific type of location. The heavy rains and east winds that accompanied the passing of August jump started this whole move, and it should mean a STELLAR snook bite this coming September. Live whitebait will still be the most productive bait during the day his month, followed closely by a well presented twitch bait that mimics the local forage. Mirrolure Mirrodine XL will get the nod (with the barbs crimped down for a better release. Don’t overlook the old standby of the white bucktail. I like Bob’s Bonefish jigs in white or tan for the beach, but that’s no surprise coming from a guy who grew up fishing the Florida Keys.
Speaking of a raging Snook bite, there is only one thing that beats cruising the passes for Snook in September, and that’s watching dozens, hundreds, or even several hundred hungry snook blast baits in the warm glow of a dock light at night. Night fishing season will get into full swing in September, and will continue to get even better as we move into Fall. The prime season for night fishing is generally considered August-December, with September, October, and November being the highlight of the year .The area between Englewood and Sarasota is known as “Snook Alley” for a reason, and thats for both the quality and quantity of Florida’s favorite gamefish found in the waters between these two scenic locations. Though any night with a good moving tide will produce exciting fishing, the dates around the Full moon will book up fast as these are usually your chance to tangle with lots of BIG Snook. You will also find lots of Redfish, gator Trout, Tarpon of all sizes (especially those fun little guys 20-50lbs, as well as a host of other nocturnal creatures. Night fish are less weary, more aggressive, and are out to fill their bellies….all good news for the night time angler. On calm nights, nearshore fishing will also be an excellent choice. You truly never know what you will run into on these trips, but you can always count on a full cooler of some of the biggest, best tasting Mangrove and Yellowtail Snapper that you will ever find. Not only will you never have a better meal than a fresh cedar planked or grilled Snapper, but you will also have a riot catching these voracious fighters on ultra light tackle!
Another great inshore target this month is the ever present Redfish. Though this is not my favorite time of year to target Redfish in Englewood, Venice, and Boca Grande, certainly is one of the easiest months for the novice. Reds will be concentrated under deeper mangrove shorelines in the shade during high tides. Look for a point or depression in the mangroves in close proximity to some moving water, toss a cut bait or a large shrimp on a jig head under the mangroves and wait. Given a little bit of time you should get to tangle with one of Charlotte Harbor’s most famous residents. There will also be medium sized schools of upper and over-slot Reds to be found on some the more significant bar edges. An early trip on the water just before first light will often reveal these schools of Reds (particularly on a lower tide) as they are most mobile during the wee hours of the morning. Take your time, watch where they go as the sun rises, and you will have a fun day ahead of you as you hone in on their daytime holding pattern. These open water fish will be happy to sit and slurp down live whitebait, pinfish, and large shrimp as well as the old standby artificials the Exude RT slug, Johnson minnow, and Mirrolure Top Pup.
You would think that with the great inshore bite that should continue this month that it would be hard to beat a backwater trip in Charlotte Harbor or Lemon Bay, but the truth is that the most exciting and productive bite is happening outside the passes just off the beautiful white sand beaches. The nearshore bite has gone from good to absolutely red hot. King and Spanish Mackerel, Cobia, Snapper, sharks, Barracuda, and some GIANT GOLIATH GROUPER. With favorable weather patterns, you will see fantastic light tackle action that is not only fun but can provide some good eats when you get home! The nearshore fishing so far this late August has been some of the best of the year. Though about a month away from the Fall southern migration of the big Kings and Cobia, we are already seeing steady catches that on some days are in the double digits. Some more good news is that just about every Cobia we have caught in the last couple weeks has been a nice keeper! From young kids and the novice angler, to the most experience die-hards, you wont be disappointed with the constant action that you will find well within sight of land this month.
BEST BETS FOR SEPTEMBER
The best Goliath Grouper bite in recent memory has been taking place within a 15 minute boat ride in any direction from Englewood, Cape Haze, and Boca Grande. Catches has run well into double digits for fish over 200lbs (we are talking about 5 feet in length as a starting point) and some well over 400lbs on a single trip! Goliath Grouper are a unique and extraordinary foe. They offer a fishing experience that is unlike any other. This is a true knockdown, drag-out fight. With a little help from one of the most successful Goliath Grouper captains anywhere, you can count on the catch of lifetime on EVERY SINGLE Goliath trip. Baits this month will be anything and everything that is legal and ethical to use for bait! Live and fresh-dead baits will do the trick, often caught on location where the Goliath roam. Its not unusual to have a great time catching your bait on light tackle, only to have to wrestle it from the clutches of the hungry Goliath right at the surface, well within sight. Once you have successfully gotten your bait up, you simply re-rig him onto the custom Goliath Grouper rig and drop back down and HOLD ON! Goliath trips this month are best run for 6-8 hours this month, and can easily be combined with some other light tackle fishing to accommodate the whole party. Check out this fresh video a recent Goliath Grouper trip run in August.
A common misconception is that Tarpon Fishing in Boca Grande, Port Charlotte, and Punta Gorda is over once July rolls around, but here we are at the end of August experiencing some of the most enjoyable Tarpon fishing of the year. Though you wont find giant schools of Boca Grande, you will find plenty of mighty Silver Kings to tangle with, day and night, in Charlotte Harbor, Lemon Bay, the accompanying creeks and rivers. These fish are not as big as the Giants of Boca Grande either, but consensus of happy customers is: “that’s just fine by us, these guys are more fun anyway!” These fish will run from 10 to 150lbs, with an average falling somewhere right in the middle around 40-80lbs. These smaller fish are more acrobatic than their giant Mommas and Poppas, usually offer more consistent action, and you don’t have to deal with a long, tiring, drawn-out fight. Fights with these frisky fellahs will last from ten to thirty minutes at most on light tackle. The one thing missing this time of year is all the boats and fishing pressure. Once again: “fine by us” is the battle cry of those taking advantage of what is locally called the “secret” Tarpon season. If your willing to put in a little time and effort, you just may find that September, October, and even early November mild is your favorite time to Tarpon fish too!
Don’t overlook the great family fishing that can be had this month. With all the big fish to target its easy to overlook the hordes of Spanish Mackerel, big Ladyfish, Jack Crevalle, and even Bonnet head sharks that will keep the wee-ones on pins and needles! Fast action is the name of the game, so find some birds diving on bait or look for Mackerel and Bonito busting the surface just off the beaches. This is a great introduction to fishing, and creates long-lasting memories of a good day on the water.
There is certainly no better way to spend time with family, friends, or just to relax away from it all than fishing the pristine waters of Englewood, Venice, Captiva, Boca Grande, Charlotte Harbor, and the Gulf of Mexico. If you are looking for fantastic inshore or offshore action, day or night, then you have come to the right place. Book your trip with Another Keeper Charters and you can rest assured that you will not only enjoy great fishing with Southwest Florida’s premier fishing guide and charter service, but you will also enjoy the company of arguably the friendliest Captain in the business!
See you soon!
TARPON SEASON 2011 IS BOOKING NOW!
2011 Boca Grande Tarpon Season Hill Tides:
The following are the 2011 Boca Grande Hill Tide dates. Hill tide trips are run from approximately 2pm until just at, or just after dark. They are six to eight hours of the best Tarpon fishing one can ever experience. The average number of fish landed on a six hour hill tide trip in the 2010 season was 4.9 with a high of 11. That’s landed fish, hands on the leader! These dates will be going fast, and the list here does not indicate availability. Please call or e-mail for availability. Many dates are already reserved, and going fast!
MAY: 15, 16, 17 (full moon), 18, 19, 20, 31
JUNE: 1 (new moon), 2, 3, 4, 5, 13, 14, 15 (full moon), 16, 17, 18