CONDITIONS: The continuing aspects of the welcome “changing of seasons” these last two weeks keeps the expectations of improved fishing results alive and well. This week we’ll experience our first fall cold front passage that will rile the weather up a tad but give us the first decline in water temperature so vastly needed to resurrect sustained good fishing here. The drop in water temperature is showing a low temperature in the mid 70’s as compared to circa 90 degrees some weeks back. That makes a major difference both in water quality and the feeding aggressiveness of the various species. Hopefully, we won’t experience the red tide and algae intrusion for some time to come. This week is also the change week for DST as we return to Standard Time with light filled mornings. Make sure you double check your tide predictions as the times double up over the weekend. The weather post frontal passage should be favorable with easterly winds and just a tad of rain intrusion over the weekend. All in all……would have to say that things are “looking up”.
BACKWATER: As the weather changes this week it will bring a different look and feel to the action. In the ranging backwaters here the summer favorites of mackerel, pompano, snapper and snook will be joined or replaced by the cold water piscatorial favorites of black drum, redfish, speckled sea trout and, of course, the legendary sheepshead. Although we have change in conditions, if the last 3/4 year pattern is repeated, it will take 4-6 weeks to reach stabilized low winter temperatures (Low 60’s). In the meantime should focus on the prolific redfish and the black drum now showing in good numbers all along the edges of Rookery Bay, Addison Bay (especially the section known as Upper Addison) and the creeks and shallows of Johnson Bay. Best for redfish is tight to the shallow mangrove overhangs with a whole shrimp on 4’ gossamer leader under a popper. The black drum (cousin of the redfish aka red drum) will be feeding on a 5-7’ location just off a deep cut in the current flow and take a small shrimp bait slowly mooched across the bottom on either tide.
NEARSHORE: Action is still focused on the summer residents….i.e. lane and mangrove snapper; mackerel and bluefish; occasionally, triggerfish, porgies and seatrout; seldom keeper grouper. The geographic channel just west of the Capri Channel is a top drawer location for the macks and blues working a flashy jig on a rapid retrieve tipped with shrimp in the top water over chum. Another spot for action on these pelagics is the John Dee wreck whose coordinates can be found on the “HOT SPOTS CHART” available at the marina and most tackle shops. The lane and mangrove snapper can be found most anywhere along the first and second reef artificial structure just off the beaches. Need chum again but set it deep to get to the bottom and then work the area with tipped weighed jigs just off the bottom.
OFFSHORE: Inquiries to several stone crabbers came back with…..” still seeing some dead floaters but better than two weeks ago”…..so a hopeful sign that the fouled water is dissipating. Deep wrecks that hold active bait should be seeing the retreating pelagics heading south to the Keys. Kingfish, cobia, permit, tarpon and sharks could show most any day and anywhere. For all you need livebait (blue runners, jacks, threadfin, and pinfish) set out on heavy tackle in waters with a good chum slick going. This would be a good week for that action with the Panhandle water temps dipping into the low 60’s already. Other dominant action will be on tripletail energized to feed with all the crab pots now flooding the offshore waters. If sighted, throttle down and crawl back then work a simple shrimp rig or jig right to the pot. Good action and great table fare.