Okay, we all consider this month a good catching month in South Florida along our east coast. For many years, it has been one of my favorite times of the year to just go fishing.
Our customers have always said this is really a good time to fish, either out front in the ocean, in the back country, off the bridges, or in the canal systems off the Intracoastal. It’s all red hot and just depends on what you want to catch, what tackle to use, and what bait to offer. That sounds easy, right?
It’s not quite that easy. For example, I have a friend and longtime customer and boat captain who has been talking about catching large amounts of small snook in the back country of the west coast of Florida. They got up at 4 am and drove across Alligator Alley headed for Chokoloskee. Once there, they put their small boat in the water and traveled 5-15 miles up the rivers and canal systems looking for moving water. This means the tides are flowing in or out.
You catch fish on rising tides, and they also bite on outgoing tides, so much better than in the one hour or so on what we call the “slack” tides. All of the fish sit and wait to ambush the bait, or food to them, as it moves by them. If you are at the mouth of one of these creeks or a river mouth, a large number of fish will sit and wait for the food coming out. If you are way back up in these canals you will catch a lot of small snook, trout, redfish, jacks, ladyfish and even mangrove snapper. You can actually pick and choose the types of fish you want to catch by the type and size of the lure you are casting. Recently, friends fishing in very shallow water caught 150 small snook, all to be released, on light spinning and casting tackle. It was constant action all day long.
We do several things to live bait so as not to hook any fish too deep in the mouth and hurt them. We also take a pair of pliers and pinch the barbs on our hooks so they go in and out easily and not hurt the fish, and it lets us release them without tearing them up. Catch and release is so important to maintaining the many species of fish we enjoy in South Florida.
My fishing buddy of 30+ years recently went out in a larger flats boat, ran 30-40 miles from the lodge and fished the mouth of some much larger canals and rivers. They worked most of the shorelines and around the river mouths with much larger lures and heavier lines in pursuit of larger snook, tarpon, redfish, in all just a mixed bag of fish. By the end of the day, they had a bunch of small fish with 10 snook from 5-15 pounds and a few nice redfish, a couple of 10-20 pound grouper, as well as several tarpon up to 50 pounds; again, variety can happen on any one cast so they caught 20-30 fish all bigger and a wider variety.
Okay, let’s talk about the ocean. It’s the same process. You can pick the sailfish, dolphin, kingfish, as well as the snapper you want to catch. All of these fish are caught on live bait by either drift fishing or kite fishing, or trolling. This can all be done from a small 20-30 foot boat on up to the multi-million dollar sport fishing boats that cost millions of dollars to buy and run with crews of 2-4 mates and captains.
We all do the same thing. It is more than an educated guess. We all learn every day, and every year fish with an open mind and open eyes, or fish though the eyes of the fish. Again, the wind, the tides, the current and the weather all play a big, if not the biggest, part in all of our fishing trips. Learn to ask questions; that’s why 10% of the fishermen catch 90% of the fish.
Bait and proper tackle, hooks, line and leader materials. Ask questions, learn from the best to be the best, but most of all go have fun. Some days 10 little fish are a lot better than one large one. Don’t ask me; ask the 5 little kids that caught 2 small snapper, and not the 10 pound bonito.
Tight lines and good fishing!