By Neil Taylor and capmel.com kayak fishing staff contributors
Around the state:
Rebirth for anglers all over the state starts in the month of September. August is very much like January, a time when people may take a hiatus from fishing. February and September are both times when people take advantages of the changes that are occurring in our waters. Heading out of summer and toward Fall, there are fantastic, exciting opportunities coming back for kayak anglers. Will it be a month of tropical depression? “Hurricane Anxiety” has not been a malady for Floridians for a few years now but if there is a month where it is likely to happen, it’s the ninth month. If tropical disturbances skip the Sunshine State again this year, expect to see great reports from kayak anglers all over the state!
Summer is over? It is for people who are in the upper Panhandle and Northeast Florida. For the rest of us: One more month of heat. Then we are into the easiest fishing months again.
The Tampa Bay region–
New hatches of baitfish during the previous months will attract a variety of species. Mackerel, ladyfish, jacks, snapper, flounder and speckled trout will be located around the baitfish schools in the deeper waters. Hovering birds tip off the location of feeding fish. Throw them the 3-inch 12 Fathom mullet with 30-pound fluorocarbon leader. Move the lures slowly to get the trout and flounder and faster to connect with mackerel, ladyfish and jacks. Pompano can be caught in this scenario as well, bouncing the Silly Willy jig (yellow) with a pink teaser, down on the bottom creating puffs of sand. They are here in great numbers and provide a great battle.
The redfish game plan shall remain “sunup” or “sunset” on the good tides. Redfish will start to gather up in much larger numbers this month with larger redfish moving inshore as well. That makes them easier to find as they “push” water as they move through an area. They will eat the 12 Fathom lures and other natural baits placed in their path.
Flounder action is peaking with a glut of larger flounder arriving to close out August that will be available to those with the right targeting plan. Every bridge and pass in the south part of the county will have great numbers of flounder. Keeping baits and lures “on the breaks”, where rocks meet sand, grass meets sand or up against craggy structure will lead to hookups! Larger sand patches in the middle of deeper grassflats will also hold some very big flounder this month.
The relentless heat of summer continues through the eighth month of the year, but don’t get into a tropical depression: Some great fishing opportunities exist. Redfish, mackerel, pompano, mangrove snapper and flounder will be great options.
The biggest redfish of the calendar year usually arrive in August, with the huge broadcast spawners arriving to the local flats but more likely to a jetty or pass near you! Don’t scrimp on tackle because it will take the big rod and reel to handle these girls.
Mackerel will be consistent around the Tampa Bay area, hanging with the fresh hatch of baitfish and can be caught on a variety of lures moved rapidly through these locations that are loaded with baitfish.
The report to give “Hot and humid with a 100% chance of more-of-the-same”. A mix of sunup and sundown trips, the fishing was mostly better when there was very little light. For sunrise trips, the best action was between 6:30AM to 8:00AM. For the sundown trips, some of the best action was at twilight but other times the action got best when it was pitch dark.
The one exception to the rule on early morning outings: Speckled trout. They have cooperated later into the morning than other species if you area in the right location. Great trout have been caught during a time of year when normally the species is not as strong a target. Regular catches of trout over 20 inches are common. Topwater lures have been great earlier but once the sun is up and shining the 12 Fathom SlamR has been tough to beat. Clients have been throwing the recently introduced “Glow” which is the “white glow” option in the mullet and SlamR, kind of an opaque white and it will hold a light charge for night fishing. But the bottom line is, it is a great color for daytime as well.
Pompano targeting has been successful at the bridges. Uncle Neil’s Custom Teaser with a Silly Willy. Yellow jig, pink teaser.
Mangrove snapper will be loaded up on every craggy structure all over the region. Big snapper usually come in from offshore this time of year. If you want to try something fun and easy, drive out to the Skyway piers and do some night fishing for big snapper pulling right up to where you fish. The rocks that are casting distance from the structure will hold terrific snapper specimens.
Flounder action has been slow this summer with baitfish schools never really flooding the inshore flats as they would in a normal year. July saw an upswing with a few more large flounder being caught but August should start a trend toward great flounder fishing that will last throughout the Fall.
Continued: The *Six-to-Ten Rule* is quite simple: Choosing the best tides, you should be fishing from six to ten. Morning or evening? Yes. “Six to ten” in the morning or “Six to ten” in the evening are both great options for the very best of mid-summer fishing. Pre-dawn outings lasting until 9 AM are a great option. Another is trying out the sundown fishing, going well into the night.
In the Southwest “Suncoast” area of Florida, Steve Gibson with Southern Drawl Kayak Fishing: Fishing around dock lights for snook, tarpon,
spotted seatrout and other species is the best bet and a great way to
beat the heat. You’ll need to use tackle stout enough to prevent the
fish from getting around pilings or back into the docks. After
daylight, I like to switch to deep grass of Whale Key on the west side
of Sarasota Bay and Stephens Point on the east side to cast for
spotted seatrout, bluefish, Spanish mackerel and other species. Action
should be good in southern Tampa Bay for redfish, trout, snook and
The East coast of Florida
Fish early for sea trout and redfish using topwater plugs on the surrounding flats at the Inlet. Look for bait pods and cast just past and around bringing your lure through. Trout will be found nearby following these morsels. Snook can be found early under mangroves and where there is structure along with where there is a nice concentration of bait fish. Using a mullet colored soft plastic on a weedless jig, cast and jig the lure back slowly and wait for the thump before setting the hook. Larger snook and redfish will be found inside and along the drop offs near the Sebastian Inlet itself as well. Live pilchars, pogies, crab or mullet work best. After a small break in the day, the mid-day to sundown bite target sea trout and redfish in deeper cooler waters. Fish the Banana River on the flats the same way as Sebastian Inlet flats
In the Big Bend of Florida’s Panhandle, September is still hot but the water temps will begin cooling off. Fishing early in the morning & the late afternoons will still give you the best bite. The flounder will begin moving good and 1/4 or 1/2 oz jighead with a curly tail soft plastic, gulp or bull minnow work great.
Call Rob or Brad to talk over the opportunities around Wakulla and Panama City. To see Rob’s operation, check out: http://www.tnthideaway.com/ . If you are going to be in Panama City, stop in and see Brad and his staff at Sunjammers: http://sunjammers.com/
In Northeast Florida: So many options, so little time. September still means long hours of daylight and a great time to target what we have to catch. It is pretty simple: Go for redfish, trout and flounder. If you want to go outside the box, you can also try for sheepshead. We have big fish up here, for pretty much all species. The passes will be great but so will the backwaters. Pick your spot and make it hot!
In the greater South Florida area: The Everglades, Flamingo anglers report some snook, tarpon but even with the state’s decision to reopen snook, the locals are not that eager to see them being slaughtered. Several more years of protection and we could feel a lot more secure about more freezes and poaching, but right now, we do not have anywhere near what we did before that freeze. Please keep the fish in the water. Mishandled fish is the same as harvesting. Great offshore action is available on the southeast side. September should have some of the most interesting catches of the year. It is deep water with some current so this is not for everyone, but those with the skills will have some great fun out past the breakers.
The tip of the month:
Getting out and wading? Secure your paddle. The paddle is your “motor” for getting back. Most lost paddles are a result of just laying it across the beam of a kayak. Waves or wind can cause a paddle to spin and blow out of a kayak, something that you may not be aware of until so much time has passed that the current has carried it far away. Solutions: A paddle leash, a bungee strapdown system with a button to pin your paddle to your kayak or jamming the paddle into an area where it will not come free.
Need help learning how to kayak fish? Hire one of our guides on staff for your region and take advantage of their knowledge and sharpen your own skills!
Get out and into the action but as always: Be careful out there!
Neil Taylor, www.capmel.com site administrator