Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Scouting Around Palm Beach/Martin County Area

There is still plenty of bait running the beach from the Treasure Coast through Boca Raton. Along Jensen Beach, this has led to some good snook and tarpon fishing early in the morning. The conditions haven’t been the best, but some nice fish have been caught this week.
     If you can hold the bottom, you can also catch good numbers of croaker and some whiting.
     Anglers are reporting excellent action in the Indian River, with snook, tarpon, black drum and big jacks all being hooked around bridges, especially at night. The flats fishing has also been solid.

Redfish are being caught around docks on the west side of the river, and trout are chewing on the east side. A 42-inch redfish was snagged in Herman’s Bay last weekend.
     Snook, tarpon, bluefish and Spanish mackerel are thick in the surf along Jupiter and are also being caught in the Jupiter Inlet.
     The bridges in the Intracoastal Waterway have been good for catching snook, tarpon, jacks, sand perch and small snapper. Snook, tarpon and snapper are active at night, while jacks and sand perch seem to be chewing during the day.
     Some snook and tarpon are being reported in the surf throughout central and southern Palm Beach County, as well as in area’s inlets and around the Intracoastal bridges and docks. Jacks are also biting, and a few permit have been reported on the beach.

     The fall fishing pattern is in effect on Lake Okeechobee as the bass are moving to the outside edges and back in the grass. The best bite is still early in the morning – first light – but bass are being caught until around 10:30-11 a.m. After that, it gets very challenging, although the action does pick up again in the late afternoon.
     Live shiners and artificial lures are both working well, and a few bass in the 5- to 6-pound range were reported.
courtesy of Palm Beach Post

Sebastian Inlet Report





We have a decent little swell at first peak this morning and there are a few surfers in the water catching waves. Thanks Joaquin, we needed the surf! This morning winds are blowing out of the West-Northwest at 7 mph, gusting to 11 and there is a moderate chop on the ICW. NOAA is calling for small craft to exercise caution for seas. We have a slight chance of showers and thunderstorms today. 

Fishing has been excellent at the inlet. The fall mullet run in full swing and it just doesn't get much better! We're seeing lots of fish going in and out of the inlet on both tides, on the flats and off the beach. Oversized and many, many slot Reds are giving our inlet anglers plenty of exercise; pulling in one of those big fighters can expend a lot of energy! Big Jacks are active and you know how they love to pull, they are so much fun to catch. Snook of all sizes, plenty of them in the slot are coming over the rails as well. Blues, Spanish Mackerel, Tarpon, Trout a few Permit and Flounder are in play. Get yourself to the inlet and wet a line!

Our first two photos today are courtesy of inlet regular Mike Ricciardi of Vero Beach. Mike rarely braves the weekend crowds on the north jetty, but he just couldn't resist the great bite. It was mullet mania with lots of Snook, Reds and Jacks being landed. Mike said the mullet were literally boiling around the inlet. Mike took the first photo of inlet regular Chuck Fischer of Satellite Beach. Chuck had a perfect day with a slot Snook and a slot Red, that's sweet! Photo one features Chuck with his catches and a rare smile.
Photo two features inlet regular Chris Robinson of West Melbourne. Chris landed his a slot Snook. 

Devin DeCoursey was fishing near the south jetty on the slack tide when he hooked up with this oversized Red. Devin was free lining finger mullet around 11:00 p.m. The Red was released unharmed to fight another day. 
Thomas Nguyen of Orlando fished the north jetty in Photo four, Thomas with a 29" slot Snook he landed using live shrimp. Thomas landed 3 oversized Reds that day using mullet and our last photo is of a 29" he released unharmed after the photo. 

Scouting Around


Inshore the snook fishing has been good around the bridges and in the inlets with the tarpon around to in the mullet schools.The beach fishing has been steady around Stuart beach to the St.Lucie inlet. There has been repoerts of some nice trout from Bear point to middle cove soft baits and top water have produced well.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Amazing Redfish Fillet Job

Serious Fish Cleaning

Sebastian Inlet Report






We have a wet, overcast morning at the inlet. The weather forecast is calling for rain off and on today. Winds are blowing out of the West at 5 mph which should shift to the Southwest this afternoon. NOAA is cautioning small craft to exercise caution for seas. 

Don't let the weather stop you from taking a trip to the inlet today. Many times the bite gets real good in rainy weather. Toss on a raincoat and go for it! Reds are the big attraction and the most active species at the inlet, with Snook and Jacks running a close second. The mullet run is bringing in Blues, Margate, a few Spanish Mackerel, a Flounder or two, Tarpon and Trout. There is no shortage of fish!

Our first photo today features Jorge Irizarry with a 22" C/R Black Grouper he landed off the south jetty. This beauty was 2" short, but a very nice inshore, still catch. In our second photo today, Jorge had better luck with a 29" slot Snook he landed later in the evening. 
Brie H. sent in our third photo of the day. Brie landed this 6' Black Tip while night fishing the beach. The Shark was released unharmed to fight another day. Nice going Brie!

Louis Chapman fished the north jetty and reported the mullet were running thick! Louis landed the 22.5" Jack in our fourth photo and the 19" Bluefish in our fifth photo.

From Whites Tackle - Ft Pierce / Stuart

Inshore yesterday there were a few reports of some nice trout and reds up to the north around Vero shores in the mullet schools around first light there also has been a few nice snook mixed in to.The Ft Pierce inlet has had a great tarpon bite at night on both the incoming and outgoing tides live mullet or plugs such as the Rebel wind cheater or Yao-Zuri 3D Minnow there has been a few snook mixed in to.The snook fishing has also been good around the dock lights at night to.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Sebastian Inlet Report



It's a beautiful morning at the inlet. We have a light wind coming out of the South-Southwest at 2 mph, gusting to 4 and there is a light chop around the jetties but the ICW is smooth. Be sure to take insect repellent if you head to the inlet today, the no see 'ums are relentless when there is no breeze. NOAA is calling for scattered showers and thunderstorms today. We will be experiencing extreme tides over the next couple of days due to the supermoon. 

Mullet, mullet everywhere; the water is teeming with those wonderful creatures that are attracting lots of predators. Plenty of Reds and Snook, lots of Jacks, Blues, Tarpon, Trout and even a few Flounder are keeping our inlet anglers busy. Spanish Mackerel should start to show up any time and we expect to start seeing more Flounder as well.

  Our first photo today is of Claire Elam of Satellite Beach who landed this 27.5" Red off the north jetty. Oh, so close! Claire returned the oversized Red to the water but was optimistic on landing a keeper. 
  Photo two features Jason Cascio of Sebastian. Jason landed this 30" C/R Red off the north jetty  using an 8" mullet on the incoming tide. He and his friends hooked up with Reds, Blues and Catfish and reported tons of Jacks coming over the rails. Huge Tarpon were rolling the surf in giant schools of mullet too. 
  Photo three features Mike Ricciardi of Vero Beach with a 25" slot Red he landed off the north jetty . Mike fished the afternoon that day and found much of the same actions with Reds, Snook and Jacks. 

Friday, September 25, 2015

From Todd / Eric @ Juno Bait -Juno Beach


From Whites Tackle - Ft Pierce / Stuart

                                     photo courtesy of John Wayne - Moon Light Charters                 

Inshore the snook fishing at night has been good with live bait around the bridges and dock lights and the jetty in Ft Pierce at night has been good with jigs and live bait to.The mullet run is on and they have been on the beach from Vero to Stuart on the beach find the bait and you will find the snook,tarpon and jacks.There has been reports of some reds and trout around from Queens Cove to Vero Shoes with a few snook mixed in at first light.

Sebastian Inlet Report



It's a lovely morning at the Sebastian Inlet. Winds are blowing out of the North-Northeast at 3 mph, gusting to 4 and there is a light chop on the water. NOAA is calling for a chance of scattered showers and a slight chance of thunderstorms. 

Anglers are having a blast at the inlet. The fall mullet run is in progress and anglers are catching lots of fish. Reds have been the most prevalent species. Reds in the 18" - 25" range have been plentiful. Oversized Reds are being landed and released but most have been in the slot. Snook are active and have been hitting mullet, croakers and shrimp. Jacks, Blues and a few Spanish Mackerel and Flounder are making appearances as well. We're seeing Tarpon rolling in the surf and Trout hitting on the flats. Mike Ricciardi of Vero Beach fished the north jetty on Wednesday afternoon and reported another good day of fishing. A number of slot Snook came over the rails on finger mullet along with Reds and Jacks. Thanks Mike!

Our first photo today features Grady Evans of Palm Bay. Grady was fishing near the north jetty on the incoming tide and hooked up with this large Permit using a large shrimp. His line became tangled with an angler's line on the north jetty and the jetty angler released the line so that Grady could untangle it, all the while this nice fish was on the line. He is grateful to the jetty angler who enabled him to land this beautiful Permit. 

Photo two features local angler Brian Love. Brian's dad Chris of Crestview came down to help celebrate his birthday last Friday by going out for a day of fishing. The men fished the flats near the inlet and had a great time catching Trout using various lures. The largest Trout was 20", they kept the ones in the photo and threw many more keepers back. They also landed Jacks, Blues and Ladyfish. 
Our third photo is courtesy of Mike Ricciardi of Vero Beach. Mike took this shot of Larry Ethridge of Melbourne with a monster Redfish. The fish was released unharmed to fight another day. 

Thursday, September 24, 2015

From Whites Tackle - Ft Pierce / Stuart

Inshore the snook bite has been good around the inlets and the bridges with the mullet starting to show up.The trout and reds have been around the sailfish flats in Stuart live bait and top water have produced the best around first light and late in the afternoon just before dark.The beach fishing has been hit or miss one day its great next is slow just find the bait schools and should find a few fish the Yo Zuri 3D minnow has produced the best.

Scouting Around - Jupiter/Martin County Area

Pier report from this morning 9/23/2015: A few nice snapper were caught early. There was a little run on spanish mackerel. It was good for short while. Most were caught on Bobber Rigs. Overall the bite was slow. The water was getting cleaner as compared to that nasty stuff from a few days ago. Hopefully they do not dump to much more.
 Tons of mullett on North side of Jupiter Jetty Tarpon, Snook and Blue Fish having a ball .... South Jetty there was a very strong snapper/Blue fish bite but the water was full of trash and dirty didn't see any Snook hook ups

Beach Report from: 
Hobe Sound: Water very dirty - Fishing very slow.
Coral Cove Beach: water semi dirty lots of bait and bluefish.
Jensen Beach: water was dirty but starting to get cleaner.Slow fishing
Fort Pierce: Small Jacks, Nice size Mackerel, Some Snapper and snook.

Sebastian Inlet Report




We have a foggy, overcast morning at the inlet. Winds are blowing out of the North-Northwest at 4 mph, gusting to 6 and there is a light chop on the water. NOAA is calling for the wind to switch directions and become East-Southeast this afternoon. We have a chance of isolated showers and thunderstorms throughout the day.
We are experiencing the fall mullet run right now; they are thick around both jetties, in the inlet and on the flats. Mojarra and croakers are available in the surf as well. Those thick schools of bait attract some great fish and we are seeing many, many Reds come over the rails with the majority in the slot. Inlet regular Mike Ricciardi fished the north jetty Tuesday afternoon from 1:00 - 4:30 on the incoming tide. He reported much cleaner water with lots of Jacks, Reds, Ladyfish and Blues hitting. Mike landed a 20" slot Red, a 34" C/R Snook and his first slot Snook of the season, a 30" beauty. 
Our first photo today features Radomr with a C/R Redfish he landed off the north jetty. The men were using mullet to land the beautiful oversized Red in our first photo. The Red was released unharmed after a quick picture. 
Photo two features Mike Ricciardi of Vero Beach with his 30" slot Snook; that is something to smile about. 
Dot Kern of Bradenton is featured in our third photo today. Dot landed this Bluefish off the north jetty. 
Alek Turko of Indialantic fished the north jetty and landed two slot Reds, one was returned to the water. The first catch was a 26" and the second was a 24". And you Know whats coming next in the last photo...

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Scouting Around - Palm Beach / Martin County

     Mullet are running the beaches throughout the Treasure Coast and Palm Beach County. This has made for some great tarpon fishing first thing in the morning along Jensen Beach. There are also big croakers and jacks around.
     You can find snook when the mullet are running, but the best snook fishing in this area has been in the Indian River, especially around the bridges.
     The river is loaded with mullet, and this has led to some great fishing for jacks as well.  Keeper-size trout are being caught on the east side of the river near Herman’s Bay, and redfish are biting on the west side.
     Snook, tarpon and bluefish are all being hooked from the beach in Jupiter. They are all chasing mullet. There are some jacks around as well, and Spanish mackerel have been reported right outside the inlet.
     Snook, tarpon and jacks are also biting around bridges, docklights and structure in the Intracoastal Waterway in Jupiter and throughout central and southern Palm Beach County. The best bite is early in the morning and later in the evening.
     A few sand perch have been hooked around Intracoastal bridges in Lantana and Boynton Beach. Permit are also biting around the jetty at the Boynton Inlet at night. Live crabs are working best.

     The fall fishing pattern seems to be starting on Lake Okeechobee as larger numbers of bass are moving back into the grass from the main lake. It’s still a morning bite, although the window has extended until mid-morning. The bass are a bit scattered – not bunched up like they tend to be in the winter – but that will change over the next couple months.
     Ritta Island, East Wall and the shoal have all been productive areas to fish. Live shiners and artificial lures seem to be working equally well at this time.
 courtesy of Palm Beach Post

Sebastian Inlet Report


We welcome fall fishing at the inlet! We have scattered clouds over the inlet this morning and NOAA is calling for a chance of showers this morning and afternoon with a slight chance of thunderstorms. Northwest winds that are blowing at 4 mph and gusting to 7 will switch to the Northeast this afternoon. 

Fall fishing is the best at the inlet. The mullet are thick and attracting lots of Reds of all sizes, with many in the slot. Snook are biting as well. Bluefish have arrived and are cutting off anglers at a steady pace. Most are in the 12 - 15" range according to Mike Ricciardi of Vero Beach who fished the north jetty on Monday. Mike landed several Reds, kept a 25" and about 15 - 20 Blues that he didn't keep. Several slot Snook came over the rails for anglers using croakers. Ladyfish and Jacks were also hitting. The dirty water kept the Snapper away that day. We expect to see a variety of species starting to make their migration past the inlet. Spanish Mackerel, Permit, Pompano and Flounder can't be too far behind!

Our first photo today features Barbara Arratucci of Punta Gorda. Barbara and her husband were fishing with the west coast fishing club that fished the inlet . Barbara was lucky enough to land this thick Flounder using mullet. 
Our second photo features inlet regular Tony Swiderski of Sebastian. Tony landed this 23" Red from the north jetty using mullet. Tony also landed Mangrove Snapper and some Jacks that he returned to the water. 

Photo three features inlet regular Mike Ricciardi of Vero Beach with a 25" Red he landed off the north jetty using mojarra on Monday.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Great Tips From Capt. Dave "The Mad Snooker" Pomerleau

Scouting Around Sebastian



Schools of mullet are attracting some nice predators. We're seeing the Redfish bite pick up as it does every fall. Snook are biting too but Reds are the big draw right now. A lot of slot sized and a few oversized Reds are coming over the rails for our jetty anglers. The Mangrove Snapper has slowed some, many think it's due to the dark water, but inlet anglers are still getting a few. Medium to large Jacks have been active and Flounder have started to appear but not in big numbers yet, it's still a little early for them. Tarpon are active on the flats and along the beaches.

Our first photo today features Dennis Campbell of Palm Bay with a real pretty 25" Red he landed off the north jetty Friday morning. Dennis also fished in the rain last Wednesday and reported a great bite for Reds, Snook and Snapper. 

Rashad Hickman of Palm Bay landed the 26" slot Red in our second photo on Friday also. This nice Red was landed on the incoming tide on mojarra. Rashad also landed an oversized 28" Red. 

Land crabs are on the move and crossing A-1-A to deposit their eggs in the ocean. October and November are peak months for spawning and they cannot be harvested from July 1st - Oct 31st. 

Sebastian Inlet Report


We have a real pretty morning at the inlet. Winds are blowing out of the North-Northwest at 5 mph, gusting to 7 and there is a light chop on the water. Although weather forecasts are calling for drier weather through Wednesday, NOAA is calling for potential isolated showers. Keep it in mind if heading offshore.

Over the weekend some nice Snook, Reds, Snapper and large Jacks were in play according to Tommy Turowski at the Sebastian Inlet Bait and Tackle Shop. There's a lot of bait in the water and big Tarpon are chasing the schools in the surf. A few decent sized Flounder and Blues have come over the rails but not in significant numbers.

Our photos today are courtesy of Mike Ricciardi of Vero Beach. Mike fished in the wind and rain and reported a good Mangrove Snapper and Redfish bite. Mike landed two nice Snapper and a 25.5" Redfish as did Bob Green of Vero Beach. Mike and Bob landed their Reds on the outgoing tide, Bob used mojarra and Mike used mullet. 

Our first photo today features Dot Kern of Bradenton who came over with their local fishing group and fished the north jetty every day, even in the rain. Dot landed the 20" slot Red during early morning Redfish bite. 
Photo two features Mike Riccardi and Bob Green, both of Vero Beach with their 25" slot Reds. 

Monday, September 21, 2015

From Whites Tackle - Ft Pierce / Stuart

Inshore the mullet are starting to show up on the flats with some nice snook and trout in them at first light and late in the afternoon find the bait and you will find the fish Bear point to Middle Cove has produced well.
 The redfish have been reported in Sebastian inlet on the out going tide with live bait with a few snook mixed in.The beach fishing has been good from Ft.Pierce to Stuart in the bait schools along the beaches find the bait and you will fins the snook and tarpon. 

Scouting Around - Sebastian Area

The early morning Snook bite was good although most fish that came over the rails were short and returned to the water. A few lucky angler walked off the north jetty with a slot fish. Good sized Jacks are in play and oversized and slot Reds were keeping some of the anglers busy this morning. Mangrove Snapper are still biting as well. One Flounder came over the rails for an angler using mullet. 
Our angler of the day is Leore Genoune of Boynton Beach. Leore and his dad Meir drove up to fish the south side on Sunday. There was an early morning Snook bite and five slot fish were landed on croakers. Leore and Meir were using mojarra and didn't fare as well some of the other anglers. The Mangrove Snapper bite was steady most of the day. They took a break then returned for an evening session when Leore landed the 26" slot Red in our photo. The evening Snook bite was red hot for those fishing with pigfish and croakers. Meir said bait was plentiful and consisted of mojarras, finger mullet and croakers that were right in the surf. 

From Capt. Charlie @ Fishing Center - Ft Pierce

This past week we have seen rain, rain and when it stops....more rain. What a wet week around the Treasure Coast.  I can’t even get a break to mow the lawn this week….  Looks like we will get some weather for a while longer.  Enjoy it when you can get out fishing!
Fishing has continued to be productive around the river. The most active area has been the Fort Pierce inlet. It has been loaded with jacks, mackerel, blue runners and other assorted predators.  Top water lures or small shiny jigs have kept rods bending on the incoming tide. Trout can be found around the mullet schools in two to five feet of water.  

The DOA  Bait Buster, Monster 3X Paddle X and the new 4" Spooltek are good choices around the mullet schools. You can't beat using the trusty DOA shrimp or Monster 3X on the flats as well. We have found redfish hanging under the mangroves lately. The snook bite has been good around the jetties and bridges. You can still find plenty of snapper around the channel edges, bridges and structure of the river.
The surf has been good while fishing the bait schools for snook, jacks, bluefish, etc. DOA Big Fish lures, CAL Air Heads, Spooltek or Bait Busters will all work around the bait schools. You can also find plenty of whiting this time of year. Bridges are holding snapper, sheepshead and some black drum. The mouth of the inlet has been alive with a variety of species on the incoming tides. It's been a wet week, so plan your trips carefully and watch the weather. Lots of thunderstorms this week have made it an adventure out there.
With all the challenging weather, what can you do on these rainy days? I like to change out hooks and refurbish lures, check the guides on my fishing rods. It's a good time to grease and oil reels and check the line. I check safety equipment in the boat to make sure all is available and in good condition. 

Thursday, September 17, 2015

From Henry & Fred @ Snook-Nook - Jensen Beach


Surf is busy with baits, lots of baits.  Water is warm so the Snook and Tarpon are here to test your equipment and you.
You can see the fish rolling, best time is early before sun up, when you seen the bait jumping you will know where to fish.
Been a lot of fish at the beach, Whiting, Croaker and a few  Pompano with Spanish Macs to keep busy and to take home.
All make excellent table fare especially the Whiting.
   Low light, early or late if it numbers is the target be there early.   Top water in the skinny water, some thing make a
little noise, chugggers or rattlers give the fish something to hold their attention.  After sun up look to fish deeper water or
shaded water,  slow down you retrieve.   On the north side of Nettles Island start up close and as the sun rises fish the deeper
water plenty of Trout with a mix of Reds and a few Flounder to keep busy.  That west side has been the Reds location with a
good mix of Trout but early is most important.   So where are the Snook, pick a bridge any where the water is moving, they are
feeding face into the current.   Jigs have toped the list, red tail hawks casted up into the current let it touch bottom and now is the
time to lift it lightly and let the current do the work.  Tarpon, plenty in the morning but they are to much work this old man, serious
tackle testers. 

Sebastian Inlet Report


We have a wet, soggy morning at the inlet. Winds are blowing out of the East at 7 mph, gusting to 11 and there is a moderate chop on the water. NOAA is calling for widespread showers and isolated thunderstorms throughout the day. Pack your raingear if you head to the inlet today.

There are a few waterproof people out fishing the jetties this morning. Weather conditions like this morning can invigorate the bite and at least it's not hot. We are seeing a lot of bait in the water including schools of mullet. Jacks, Snapper, Reds and Snook have been the prevalent catches. Tommy Turowski at the Sebastian Inlet Bait and Tackle shop reported hearing of a few nice Flounder catches as well. 

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Crack The Mullet Run Code


 Using my trolling motor to position the boat a long cast from the seawall, I stood ready to send a topwater plug deep into a basin created by two parallel seawalls roughly 80 feet apart. The tips of the walls stuck out 30 feet or so from shore, blocking the path of the mullet schools migrating along the shoreline.
Professional bass fisherman Shaw Grigsby was with me that morning and as the first hint of light hit the water the mullet schools started to push around the seawall. Grigsby made a long cast parallel to the seawall with his topwater plug, and started crawling it down the wall with a walk-the-dog retrieve. Instantly, it was movie night at Orville Redenbachers, as a big snook popped his plug while other fish blasted the school of mullet coming around the point.
One cast into the day, and we were fast to a big snook, with lots more waiting.
That’s how the fishing can be during the fall mullet run when the fish stack up along ambush points. Life expectancy for a live mullet or topwater plug is often less than 10 minutes.
In with the mix of snook were jumbo jack crevalle and some of the largest ladyfish of the year. By the time Grigsby and I stopped casting, we had almost a dozen snook to our credit.
Crawl The Walls
Among the first places I look when the mullet come to town are seawalls, bulkheads and rocky shorelines, places where predatory fish can pin the baitfish.
These structures direct or occlude the movements of the mullet schools, forcing the fish to move in a consistent manner. If the obstruction sticks out from land or blocks the path and creates an ambush point the mullet have to go around, then so much the better.
There’s also a tendency for higher than normal tides around the new and full moons which raises the water levels in front of the seawalls, allowing the largest snook in the area to get in on the action. So whether you throw topwater plugs down the wall at first light or pitch live mullet against the wall during the daytime, the snook are there waiting for the mullet to run the wall, so the action takes place all day long.
Find the Feeding Frenzy
The fall mullet run is one of my favorite times of the year to fish because of the variety and abundance of gamefish, but also for the constant food chain in motion. From sharks and tarpon to snook, jumbo ladyfish, flounder and redfish, fall has it all if the mullet are present. And therein lies the rub: There has to be mullet pushing for the bite to go ballistic, and that doesn’t always take place.
One of my main strategies to fishing the fall mullet run is to find the bait—find the bait and you find the fish, it’s that simple. I’ll start my day working seawalls, and then as the sun gets up, I’ll start the engine and cover water looking for mullet schools being actively busted or chased. On calm days, that may mean running the beaches, often covering 20 miles or more watching for big schools of mullet tight against the shoreline.
You’ll know when you find a school that’s actively being fed upon. The mullet will be raining as they jump from the water to escape the attacks from below, and in the mix will be cartwheeling tarpon and snook, sharks racing through the schools and bluefish, Spanish mackerel and ladyfish attacking the edges of the schools from the outside.
In areas where there’s public access, you can fish these bait schools from the beach. In fact, I’ve stood on shore just outside of public swimming areas as massive tarpon took every inch of line off my reel, never stopping, and I’ve caught snook to 30 pounds or more right next to children wading and skimboarding.
If the mullet are there, the predators are going to be feeding from their ranks.
Lures work well from the beaches, particularly during low light when the fish can’t get a good look at the offerings. Big swimming plugs and soft plastics with boot tails are the top offerings in chartreuse, red-and-white and black or green backs with a natural colored body. Cast the lures parallel to shore or the outside edge of the mullet school and reel them back with a slow, deliberate swagger to their swimming motion.
Live bait is hard to beat, particularly when you’re standing next to an unlimited supply. One throw of a small castnet will get you all the bait you need for a day of fishing, but I like to catch my baits fresh every time, so I know they’re hearty and swim strong. Standard tackle for the fall mullet run includes 30-pound spinning or baitcasting gear, a 60-pound monofilament or fluorocarbon leader and a 6/0 circle hook.
There’s a lot of options when it comes to hooking up a live bait, but I like to start with casting my net and using the largest of the finger mullet or the smallest of the adult mullet, ideally looking for a bait that’s 6 to 10 inches in length. At this size the baits will cast well, and represent a large enough meal to draw the ire of a tarpon or trophy snook.
Hook the baits below and just behind the anal fin, which forces the baitfish to swim to the surface where it sticks out. Hooked this way, its tail will constantly tap the line, sending injured bait impulses through the water that the fish can detect. Also, if you pull on the line, the fish will swim away from the pressure, meaning away from you and further out from shore.
As the fish reaches the outside edge of the bait school, those rhythmic thumps of the tail will really attract the predators, and you can often tell when a strike is imminent, as the beating of the tail picks up measurably as the fish sees its attacker approaching and tries to get away.
Go Deep To Score
Weather is the key to migrating mullet, with cooler temperatures, northerly winds and extreme high tides all factoring into the fish’s movements. Hurricanes can negatively impact the run, as can high seas and surf, all of which push the baitfish into deeper water offshore, limiting angler and gamefish access to the food source.
As a rule, the finger mullet are the first to show, usually by the third week of August. As the run ramps up, the schools get larger, as does the size of the mullet, with the mature baitfish arriving by mid-September. From there, it’s a mixture of baitfish of all sizes.
When fishing the finger mullet schools, it’s common for the largest game fish to sit deeper in the water column so that a freelined bait or topwater plug swimming near the surface gets bit by mostly juvenile fish. One of the easiest ways to increase your number of bites and the size of the fish is to add a jighead or weight to the equation.
When fishing the finger mullet it’s common to use lighter line from 15- to 20-pound test, and a 40-pound monofilament or fluorocarbon leader. The jighead you select can be any color, but it seems red or chartreuse work best, and should weigh between ¼- and 3⁄8-ounces, or just enough weight to get the bait below the bait school and still allow the finger mullet the ability to swim.
If you find a spot with moving water, such as around inlets or bridges, you can cast the jig and finger mullet combination upcurrent and bounce it along down-tide. You’ll get a lot of flounder, redfish and snook that way.
About 10 years ago I was fishing inside the St. Lucie Inlet during the month of October and freelining finger mullet along the shoreline. I was catching a good number of mostly sub-slot snook, with over a dozen fish to show for a couple of hours of fishing.
On a whim, I tied on a ¼-ounce jighead, pinned a finger mullet to it and cast to the same area where I had been fishing. On the first cast, I caught an 18-pound snook, the largest of the day, and in the next hour landed six slot or over-the-slot snook, all from that same area where I’d been catching 24-inch snook all morning.
The same goes for fishing around docks or in the open water schools of finger mullet being actively attacked by gamefish. While the larger fish do on occasion feed from the surface, it seems like a lot of the smaller fish are the ones you see doing cartwheels or busting water, while the larger fish lurk deep and feed without showing their presence. A jig and mullet or weighted mullet cast into the mix will often find the fish lurking below the bait schools.
Explore The Nightlife
Since it’s still hot during the daytime, night fishing is a great break from the October heat. Even better is that the fish tend to concentrate around the lights of docks and bridges, narrowing down the areas to fish. In fact, the fish can be so concentrated at times that you can see big schools of snook under the docks lights or on the edges of the light. And you can bet these fish are there to feed.
Less boat and angler pressure also fires up the apex predators in open water, as tarpon get on the bridges and in the inlets at night. Some of the best tarpon fishing of the year can happen at the inlets, as fish from 10 to 100 pounds or more lie in the current waiting for the silhouette of a mullet to flow by with the tide. And when it does, the strike can be spectacular.
I’ve sat in the St. Lucie Inlet at night on a strong outgoing tide freelining finger mullet behind the boat and using the trolling motor to maneuver the boat and force the finger mullet to cut a wake along the surface. The best advice I can give you is to bring a lot of bait, as I’ve had 40-bite evenings where fish of all sizes were blasting the mullet, with a tarpon bite taking place every few minutes.
A major drawback to tarpon fishing in the dark is that you feel the bite when the fish is already in the air before you have time to react, so tarpon tend to throw the hook more than in the daytime when you can see the action taking place. By the time you try to bow to the leaping fish, the sound you hear is the fish landing back in the water.
Topwater plugs and swimming plugs work well in these situations and also around the bridges for snook of all sizes. Crank a lipped plug slowly down the shadow line and be ready to retain possession of your rod and reel when everything comes to a sudden halt. If there are big schools of mullet pushing through the bridge and getting crashed regularly, that’s a good time to break out the topwater plugs and cover water.
The best fishing during the fall mullet run takes place whenever the mullet are moving, and that regularly includes the worst weather scenarios. When the wind is blowing and the seas are kicked up as the first northerly fronts push south, you can bet the mullet are on the move and the fish are feeding from their ranks. Get there when the fish are feeding, and you’ll catch the best bites of fall.FS
Placement Matters
For deepwater areas around bridges, or around seawalls where you want the bait to push away from the boat and up against the wall, the best place for a hook is in front of the dorsal fin. To get the bait to swim deep, you can also hook it in the throat, a great technique when fishing directly above the bait on a bridge; the mullet swims down against the pull of the line.
Fishing from land toward open water, hook the underside of the bait behind the anal fin, to force the bait to swim away while remaining on the surface. Similarly, when fishing toward a seawall, you can hook mullet beneath the second dorsal fin (left, bottom) to drive them toward the structure.
Around docks, hook through both lips (left, top) to let the bait swim around a piling, but pull the baitfish out of the structure should it get too deep. This is also the best hook placement for slow-trolling.
About the Fall Mullet Run
Peaking some time in October, Florida’s east coast mullet run is a sight to behold. At beaches and inlets from Fernandina to Miami, when the mullet arrive, you can expect to see thick, dark waves of baitfish fleeing tarpon, sharks, bluefish and all manner of coastal predators.
On the Gulf Coast, bursts of similar activity kick off this month, as well.
The east coast run is composed primarily of silver mullet in the 4- to 5-inch range. These “finger mullet” are fish not yet one year old, spawned in the March-through-June time period. In spring and early summer, the larval silver mullet are carried north by the Gulf Stream, and then move inshore to feed in estuaries as far north as North Carolina. The species is intolerant of water below about 68 degrees Fahrenheit; as winter approaches, the fish head south for warmer water. (Only juvenile silvers— young of the year—were documented in a North Carolina report, for example; few, if any, adults.)
Another mullet “run” of sorts may intersect that of the silvers: Striped mullet, mature at 8 to 11 inches, move seaward in the fall, exiting rivers, canals and intracoastal waters. They will spawn offshore in October through December, and then return to their home waters. This pattern sees big schools of mullet gathering in lower estuaries of both Atlantic and Gulf Coast. Striped mullet are more tolerant of cold water than the silvers; thus populations reside year-round in northern estuaries.
Members of both species require some level of salinity in very early stages, hence the “catadromous” spawning activity—living in fresh waters, spawning in salt, the inverse of salmons and other anadromous fishes. Once striped mullet reach about 1 inch, they can live in completely fresh water; we were unable to find a specific reference to salinity threshold for silver mullet, but one report indicates the species is less tolerant of low-salinity waters.
Mullet are primarily herbivores, grazing on algae and tiny plants.
A simple way to tell silver mullet from striped mullet: the silver has a black edge on the tail fin.
Pause For The Cause
Any time you’re fishing topwaters at night, you want to walk the dog through the lights and structure, with the exception of fishing bridges with distinct shadow lines. I’ve found that walking a topwater from the dark and into the light in one continuous motion isn’t as effective as pausing the bait when it first contacts the light. What I like to do is work the bait continuously in the dark areas, and then pause the lure when it hits the light, allowing the wind and current to push the bait through the light.
If you watch a single mullet moving through a bridge, the baitfish will zig and zag their way through the dark, but when they hit the light, they freeze. It’s as if the light blinds or confuses the baitfish, as they drift through the lighted area with the tide. Quite often, that’s when the snook and tarpon attack.
So when working a topwater, stop the lure in the light and let it drift through the light, bouncing up and down with the wave action. This technique doesn’t always work better than a steady retrieve, but there are a lot of nights when it’ll outfish a steady retrieve three to one.
Lastly, you want to match the size of your topwater lure to the size of the mullet moving through the light. Color isn’t as important as the size of the silhouette of the lure as it drifts through with the tide.
Courtesy of Capt. Mike Holliday/Florida Sportsman Mag.