September fishing did not disappoint, especially on the near shore reefs. Cooler water temps combined with hoards of bait holding on the beach led to feverish action that will only escalade as we head into October.
The tarpon, which push back onto beaches late September and early October, are devouring bait pods near the swim boueys at a feverish pace, with plenty of big fish launching out of the water in air attacks. Mackerel, jacks and lady fish are also in on this action driving bait to the surface which leaves the bait exposed to bombardment of sea gulls and pelicans. It doesn’t take long to zero in on the action with the commotion caused by this all out szmorgasborg which can easily be seen from the beach. Putting yourself in a kayak right in the middle of it is quite an adrenaline rush.
After chasing around the bait pods, I like to anchor up and bottom fish the near shore reefs for some good table fare. It doesn’t take ling to load up on grunts, flounder, and mangrove snapper. While staying busy with light tackle, I send down a live pin fish or fresh cut bait on heavy tackle to entice a big bite from whatever is cruising the reef. Anything from keeper grouper to sharks can slam this rig and this september more often than not the big bites came from large cobia or 3-4 foot lemon sharks. Cobia are not the prettiest fish in the world, but they are great fighters and awesome on the grill. My last trip onto the beach also resulted in spotting one of the biggest kingfish I have seen launching after bait which means now I will be breaking out my stinger rigs early this year.
I usually will not target inshore species of reds, snook and trout while the fall beach chaos is going on unless the weather forces me to. When I have fished inshore this month, I have had good action with reds off spoil islands and dock fishing. The snook have been a bit skittish on the trips I have targeted them, but I expect that bite to pick up as they settle into their winter homes in the canals and back waters. Drum and sheepshead are always a great stand by if the reds and snook don’t cooperate and are great eating fish too.
One other very cool thing I have started doing this month is bringing along my 3 year old son with me and my Dad on our once a week trips. Having three generations of family fishing together in the same kayak is WAY COOL. My son is more interested in playing with the bait than fishing, but just being able to introduce him to fishing with his Pops, the man who instilled in me my passion for fishing, is something I don’t take for granted. Pops and I don’t fish as hard when my son is with us, but our trips seem to be much more enjoyable and memorable.