Captain Chad Starling
This past summer was a little different from summers past. In the spring and summer of 2017, we were seeing a large number of Amberjack off our coast but in 2018, they just didn't show up.
Both 2017 and 2018 gave us great king mackerel and shark fishing, so that helped us greatly this year since the Jacks were absent.
Now that we are in a transition period between seasons, our biggest issue is live bait. The pogies we are so accustomed to are far and few between and all through this past summer we just didn't see the spanish sardines and cigar minnows we are used to. There were some around, but just not in the numbers we have come to expect.
There are still some king mackerel around and they can be caught by slow trolling live bait if you can find it, or if no live bait is available, you can use dead cigar minnows and Spanish sardines. Seems to work better with Kingbuster skirts. The cigar minnows seem to do better because they are tougher and stay on the hook better. To continue with trolling, wahoo and blackfin tuna should begin to start showing up in better numbers as we continue through fall into winter. High speed trolling large lures (10-20mph) and/or ballyhoo (5-8mph) for the wahoo and cedar plugs and small skirted jet head lures for the blackfin.
Bottom fishing is improving outside 30 miles for grouper, vermilion snapper, red porgy, jacks, and triggerfish.
Inside 30 miles vermilion, some triggerfish, ring tail porgies, black sea bass, grouper, and plenty of red snapper can be expected. Black sea bass should start to show up in better numbers once we see some cooler weather come through.
Inshore the sheepshead are starting to show a little along with some the flounder that have been around for quite some time, speckled trout, and bull reds. As the temps begin to cool, we can expect to see the numbers of sheepshead, croaker, and yellowmouth trout to improve as well.
We are in the swing of the annual bull redfish migration so it's a great time to catch a dinosaur. Please take proper precaution when handling and releasing these fish. They are our breeders, so we need them to survive. The longer you hold them out of the water to admire and photograph, the less their chances of survival are once released. So be as quick as possible in getting them back in the water.
There's a lot of mullet in the rivers and on the beach, so catching live mullet is not very difficult. Just need a 3/8" mesh on your cast net and whatever size you feel most comfortable throwing.
Now get out there and catch something! And don't forget to take the kids!