Saturday, September 30, 2023

Ed Killer / tcpalm South Fla.

The splash was as big as a trawler yacht. The mullet sailed five feet through the air. The small baitfish had to make a choice: fly or become lunch.

A 100-pound tarpon was in hot pursuit. It wheeled 90 degrees on the water's surface. The mullet briefly evaded capture by going airborne. A white frothy foam marked where the giant fish had turned so quickly. A half dozen other mullet streaked away from the spot, no doubt wondering when a predator would target them.

Meanwhile, 75 feet away, a five-pound jack submarined along the surface chasing one of the unfortunate fleeing fish. This mullet swam a straight line at top speed on the surface under the C Dock at the Fort Pierce City Marina. Could it swim fast enough and far enough to outlast the persistent hungry jack? Probably not, was my guess.

The marina was full of life about midday on a recent Saturday. Small schools of finger mullet swam up-tide as it swept in from the ocean a few miles away. They hugged the marina bulkhead for shelter from the myriad predators that patrolled the marina's depths.

Jack crevalle, what locals call "canal tuna," are notorious for their blistering speed and ravenous appetites. Groups of three to six jacks as small as 2 pounds or as big as 15 swam along a few yards from the bulkheads, looking like playground bullies aiming to steal someone's lunch money, or in this case, lunch.

Snook lied out of sight on the marina's bottom. As one of the Indian River Lagoon's top ambush predators, they know they can sit in wait and strike only when the odds of grabbing a meal are decidedly in their favor.

Tarpon roamed the open water of the marina just off the fuel dock between C Dock and M, N and O docks. Any mullet that got chased out into the open by the wolfpack of jacks were fair game for the tarpon and their bucket-shaped mouths. Once in a while, a small goliath grouper that lived in the bulkhead would come out after a mullet running away from a jack.

It was sheer terror for the mullet. Meanwhile, scores of sheepshead, a dozen pufferfish, a moray eel, a school of hardhead catfish and even drifting moon jellies carried on without a care as the feeding period commenced. The finger-long silver mullet, the center of the lagoon's food web, were being singled out by the fish-eaters. Striped (or black) mullet, which are much larger, and look a little different, swam around as if they were enjoying a weekend at the pool.

It was a snapshot of the fall mullet run through the Treasure Coast. Every year, what passes for the change of season here is kicked off by the annual migration of yearling silver mullet. They are no more than a half dozen inches long and come from bays, coves and the lagoon. The mullet gather before they go, and during some unknown tide or moon phase, they begin swimming south. Most exit the lagoon through an inlet and turn south down the beach. Those that don't move south in the lagoon.

Every year, their appearance spurs much debate around tackle shops, on catwalks and jetties and, of course, on social media. People ask where the mullet are. Others take great photos or drone videos for YouTube and Facebook. Even I get emails, texts and tagged in social media posts either reporting where mullet are, or where they aren't.

Anglers are often chasing the schools on foot down the beaches. They cast topwater plugs or swim baits patterned like mullet. Many love fishing the mullet run and hook up with sharks, jacks, snook and tarpon. Others, like my late friend Harry Scherer, used to complain that "fishing during the mullet run is like fishing in a lottery."

Snook-Nook Fishing Report

Inshore Fishing Report 

September provided our inshore anglers some steady mullet run action! We can expect to continue seeing schools of mullet pushing our way over the next few weeks as there have been reports of them as far north as Jacksonville. Some of the better fishing has been found early in the mornings and in the evenings/at night as the mullet schools have seemed to be more prevalent then. For those targeting Snook, the low light conditions will play to your advantage as the Snook will use the shadow lines from dock lights and bridges to ambush the mullet that are pushing through. Making your bait stand out in the school is key to getting the bite when the bait is prevalent, many anglers will prefer artificials such as paddle tails, jerk baits and top waters depending on the situation that you are fishing. Some of the most popular artificials we have been selling this month have included; NLBN paddle tails, NLBN Lil Mullets and Mini Mullets, 3” DOA CALs, Hogy Pro Tail Paddle Tails, Yozuri Crystal Minnows, Fingerlings and Top Knock Pencils, Rapala Xraps and Bomber Windcheaters. If you’re into fly fishing, the dock lights this time of year will provide you plenty of opportunities. If you do prefer fishing a live mullet, adding a small cork to slow the bait down or trimming the tail fins will give your bait a more injured presentation making an easier snack for the fish.  For those Snook fishing inshore during the day, there has still been plenty of action. Locating schools of bait in areas such as canals, on seawalls, along mangrove lines or near any ambush point or structure will be keys to your success. This is one of the best times of year to fish the sea walls even if you aren’t seeing any bait around. Larger mullet in the 6-10” range are one of the best bait choices if you’re hunting for big Snook. You will want to keep that mullet tight to the seawall for the Snook as when the bait comes off the wall a few feet you will start running into more Jacks. For those fishing docks, anglers have been finding success with Bunkers, Pilchards, Pinfish, Pig Fish, Croakers and Mullet. If you can get your hands on pins, pigs or Croakers anglers have been finding success around the causeways fishing the bridge fenders. 

We’ve had a steady Tarpon bite over the past month! Those fishing for them around the Jensen, Stuart and Roosevelt causeways on outgoing tides have been able to pick a few of them off on larger mullet and crabs. Fishing mullet heads is also an extremely effective method for some of the lazier fish. The crossroads and North Fork have yielded encounters with the Silver King as well by those fishing those larger mullet. We typically see a consistent Tarpon bite this time of year towards the power plant. A lot of times the feeding window may be short and is typically right at sunrise and sunset but at times it does last longer. 

Anglers fishing the flats and mangroves around the power plant and north have run into a few redfish and trout. Pitching artificials such as small paddle tails and shrimp into pockets in the mangrove lines is an excellent way to target them. A few flounder have been caught by those fishing shrimp on a jighead and live mullet. A few Black Drums and Sheepshead have begun to make an appearance at the Jensen and Roosevelt Causeways by those fishing shrimp, fiddler crabs and chunks of blue crabs. As we begin to get some cool fronts and north winds we will begin to see more of them showing up inshore as we get into the fall. Those cool fronts will also bring along Croakers, Spanish Mackerel, Pompano and Bluefish. October always brings us a nice variety of opportunities inshore with the mullet run and early signs of some of our migratory fall/winter fish! 

Ed Killer / tcpalm South Fla. Report

 Do you have full moon fever? The harvest moon is Friday and it's another supermoon, meaning don't be surprised if the gravitational pull of the moon is a little stronger than normal. Here are some other natural indicators to watch for this weekend:

  • King tides are possible.
  • Mullet are still on the move.
  • The early stages of the bluefish, Spanish mackerel, pompano, dolphin and blackfin tuna migrations are beginning.

So if you're not stuck spending an afternoon at the church pumpkin patch, tie on your favorite mullet-patterned topwater plug or swim bait and make a few casts to see if there is a hungry snook or wily tarpon around.

Mosquito Lagoon

Capt. Jon Lulay of 2 Castaway Charters in Titusville has been steering clients to catches of redfish and tarpon in the lagoon. Redfish have been rooting in schools away from the islands and shorelines, but slot-sized fish can be found along the shorelines with live shrimp. Some sight-casting opportunities exist in the shallow windless waters. Speckled trout, snook and black drum can also be caught in the same area.


There are still mullet moving through the area and probably will for about two more weeks. Snook, jacks, tarpon, sharks and more have been in the schools. Use topwater plugs or swim baits patterned like mullet to get bites as the schools push south. Pompano, bluefish and Spanish mackerel are right behind this migration.

Sebastian Inlet

The bait schools in this zone have been energizing the bite for snook, redfish, jacks, goliath grouper and bluefish. The incoming tide seems to provide the most action around the T-Dock, but it's the outgoing tide that enhances the action around the ends of the jetties. Snapper will take shrimp or cut bait on the bottom.

Indian River Lagoon

Fish points, shoals, submerged spoil islands for action from speckled trout and snook. Live mullet will go a long way to generating action. Small tarpon and black drum are near mangroves or in residential canals. Fish the bridge pilings and piers for sheepshead and flounder.


Moving water in the river sections of the St. Johns have been key for catfish. Bass will be along the edges near spawning beds. Topwater frogs and crank baits will draw reaction strikes in Lake Poinsett and Lake Washington.

Sebastian Inlet Report With The "SNOOKMAN"

Cooler water temps should increase the action; look for snook, redfish, jacks, tarpon and more

“Snookman” Wayne Landry, our fishing guide, gives us the scoop: “Good morning, fishing aficionados. The weather was good for a change, except for the sometimes breezy ENE winds.

 The fishing has largely been just OK. More schools of mullet are moving around in the inlet and attracting predator fish, but there were no hot spots in the inlet last weekend. The better bite  was on the incoming tide — in middle of it — and the first two hours of the outgoing tide when the water was clearer. The incoming tide for both sides has improved, significantly impacting how the bite will be. I saw several different species being caught all around the inlet. Get to your favorite spot and just wait them out: the south side had the upper hand over the weekend. The water temps have finally cooled down a tad, from 85 last week to 83 this morning, which should increase the action. Here’s the breakdown: 

North jetty: Here, the action has been mostly on the very early morning and late evening high tides. Snook, redfish and big jack crevalle have been taking live baits of any type. Live pigfish and pinfish and mullet have been the baits of choice. Most of the snook caught were all oversized, but I saw a few nice upper slot fish caught last week. Pigfish were the dominate bait. Redfish of all sizes were caught on live bait and cut bait. Remember, they are catch-and-release only. I saw Spanish mackerel caught on live greenies, a bait getting harder to find. Mangrove snapper are still around and biting on live shrimp and live or dead greenies all along the rock shoreline and the jetty pilings. The outgoing tide has been producing snook, redfish, jack crevalles and bluefish; yes, I said bluefish! Saw a couple of them caught Saturday morning. Also, anglers are still hooking big cubera snappers, but aren’t able to land them. Also, on this outgoing tide, the Spanish mackerel bite was still happening on the beachside. Use live greenies. I also saw sheepshead caught around the rocks and pilings. It's a bit early for them as they seek cooler water temperatures. Cut shrimp is the bait for them. 

South jetty: On this side,  the bite has been all on the incoming tide, about an hour or so into it when the cleaner ocean water moves in. All along the rocky shoreline it has been all about the snook! Many caught, but most have been undersized. But quite a few slots are being caught! It's not been ‘hot’ by any means, just good enough to produce some great action. Live baits of pins or pigs are doing the trick. Saturday, while watching guys and gals fishing, it resembled what we ‘old timers’ referred to as combat fishing. They were slinging baits everywhere and hooking fish all over the place; tangles and breakoffs were the norm, but many small fish were caught. Along with them, folks were hooking redfish, jack crevalle and small tarpon. Outgoing tide at the tip was all about the black margates, blue runners, mangroves and a couple of nice sheepshead. Live and dead shrimp for them. 

T-Dock Area: Back here it has been a bit slower, the outgoing tide has been pretty stained with the brackish water coming out of the river. Lots of puffers being caught around the dock pilings, and just a few small mangrove snappers, all on cut baits. The incoming tide when the clean water finally gets back to the area is producing snook and redfish, jack crevalle and some Spanish mackerel. For the snook and reds live pins and pigs are the go-to baits, the mackerel are hitting small jigs and silver spoons. The nighttime guys are catching snook on the 3-5 inch swim baits, and the artificial shrimp jigs. Incoming tide, and the beginning of the outgoing tide have been the better times. 

Surf Area, both sides: The north side of the inlet from the pocket up to the north parking lot in the park has been producing snook and redfish when mullet are present. Also, I have been told that there have been big tarpon and sharks — mainly bulls and blacktips. Live baits, large swim baits will attract a bite from them. Early morning and late evening is the best time to fish. On the south side, same thing, when the water is clear and there are  mullet around, snook, reds, sharks and tarpon have been playing. Fish from the south jetty to the day use parking lot just south of the inlet. Again, live baits and large swim baits of any kind should bring some action. 

Well, fishing friends, that's it for this week. Rain is forecast this week, but that doesn't stop the fish from biting; they are already wet. As I’ve said, the water starts to cool a bit, mullet should start moving again, and hopefully, fishing will improve. This is the best time of the year to fish, as far as I'm concerned. Get out and to your favorite spot and catch dinner or a catch of a lifetime.” —Snookman


From Todd, Eddy & Jeff @ Juno Bait -Juno Beach

INSHORE-  Snook fishing remains very good inshore right now.  Mullet schools are still around, but not in massive amounts.  Smaller schools of mullet tend to be a little easier to fish; and often times lead to more action (If you think about it...would you rather pick a raffle ticket out of a bucket of 100 or 10,000?).  Look for the mullet to be the most active and up on top early in the morning, late in the afternoon, and at night.  Boat traffic and high sun tend to drive them down deep and make them harder to fish.  When the fish are actively feeding in a mullet school try a topwater plug fished on the outside edges of the school for best luck.  Another trick that can work well is a crazy different colored pug fished in the school.  Yes "match the hatch" is typically the best plan when picking colors, but an oddball in the middle of a million other choices can sometimes be the ticket.  It's mainly snook inshore with the mullet; but a fair number of tarpon and jacks will be around as well.  Snook fishing at night around the bridges remains strong as well.    

SURF/PIER-  Mullet pod reports were a bit slower this week; but still a good number of therm around.  The tarpon are still hanging around them in good numbers; and have been willing to crush a topwater fished on the edge of the schools early in the morning.  The Yo-Zuri Hydro and Topknock Pencil have been two top lure choices for the tarpon.  Snook action slowed a bit around the mullet schools; but big jacks and shark have taken up the slack.  Best bet on finding the mullet is to look early and late in the morning.   If you can't find any pods along the beach, sometimes checking the inlets on outgoing tide can be a good way to find them.  The Juno Beach Pier has been producing a lot of fish this week.  Spanish mackerel have been around the pier in very good numbers.  The bobber rig with a clark spoon or white crappie jig have been the top two lure choices.  A few kingfish around the pier as well early in the morning and late in the afternoon.  A swimming plug (Rapala X-Rap or Yo-Zuri LC Minnow) is the best way to go for the kings.  Some solid pompano reports coming in from the pier as well on Doc's Goofy Jigs.  A lot of the pomps have been on the smaller side; but a decent number of keepers in the mix.  Overall very good fishing; definitely worth giving it a shot if you have a chance.

Jay Linesider....MULLET RUN 2023 AND BRIDGE SHADOW LINES 🎣🐟🐟🐟🐟🎣