It's almost over, the hot days of summer that is. With the arrival of September, it's only a few weeks before we break out of the hot days and transition to the cooler days of autumn. This is great news for fishing around Southwest Florida for several reasons.
At the top of the list, you would have to place relief from the summer heat. Days will become less humid with a slight drop in temperature, after the hot days of August this will be welcome.
Don't get me wrong, it will still be hot on many days, but it will become much more tolerable as the month progresses.
Snook are back in season. Zed Hejzlar holds a 35-inch summer snook that was caught and released from Matlacha Pass while fishing with Capt. Bill Russell.
The summer thunderstorm pattern will begin to fade away opening up the door to spend longer periods of the day on the water. Also with less rain, the clarity of inshore waters will improve along with salinity levels. And that is very good news following our extra rainy summer.
Just as anglers enjoy the change of seasons, look for fish to also respond as they become more active, resulting in improved fishing. With a drop in water temperature you can expect them to exert more energy and feed more consistently throughout the day. Of course it's fishing - there are days when you can't buy a bite no matter what, but your chances for success are tipped in your favor.
Offshore, as the water temperatures drop, look for fish to move closer to shore in shallower depths. There are reports recently of good grouper and snapper catches in less than 70 feet of water; it might be a great a year for near shore bottom fishing. Many of the artificial reefs that dot our coast are also yielding good action with everything from snapper to snook.
For the inshore angler, it's a month with almost endless opportunities. The beginning of autumn is always a great time to fish for the big four (snook, tarpon, redfish and sea trout) inshore species. As the shallower inshore water cools, game fish will become more active, look for explosive strikes on top waters lures with all four feeding much more aggressively.
Tarpon will not be in the huge pre-spawn schools of spring, but there will be plenty around. However redfish will be in large schools prowling the inshore waters.
From now until the first real cold front (most likely in October) presents us with our best red fishing of the year. Large fish will gather in schools of up to several hundred and on the right day can give you a fishing experience you will never forget. Look for them moving along the shallow edges of bars as they push a wall of water and crashing any bait fish in their path.
Try to get well ahead of the moving fish to intercept their path, if you don't spook them make a long cast ahead of the lead fish and hang on. Most are way oversize but they sure are a blast to catch.
Larger sea trout will begin moving back into shallower water to feed; this is a great time to work a top water plug across your favorite trout flats.
Plenty of keeper size trout will also be caught under the endless schools of baitfish, look for birds and surface activity.
Snook season will reopen for the first time on our coast since the devastating freeze of 2010. Snook will begin to leave the beach and passes and move back inshore on the flats around oyster bars, shorelines, and other structures.
This can be one of the best months for snook fishing, and if you're lucky enough to catch one within the legal slot, they are again in season.
Plenty of other fish including Spanish mackerel, sharks, snapper, jack crevalle, bluefish, pompano and cobia, to name a few, are all on the list of what we should expect to catch in the upcoming month.
With so many fishing opportunities and weather that's more enjoyable, get out there and see what you can catch!
Have a safe week and good fishin'.