We are finally getting into that "magic" time of the year. The transition from Summer into fall has always been my favorite. The water temps will start to cool slowly through September and generally won't make a big plunge until late October or early November. Right now, things are looking great both inshore and offshore and we still have plenty of action to come.
The inshore fishing over the past two weeks has been very good for Redfish and Flounder. Redfish are still in their usual late summer pattern of being everywhere on both tides. We have been getting Reds of all sizes in the backwaters, from the upper parts of Wolf Bay to several miles offshore. Reds in the upper bays have been biting well on live shrimp under popping corks as well as small topwater lures and twitchbaits like the Mirrolure 17MR and 14MR and the Unfair Rip-N-Slash and Dinkum Mullet. Fish closer to the pass have been feeding on a wider variety of baits from glass minnows to larger Mullet and Pinfish. Live baits such as these will do well and larger topwater lures and soft plastics will get plenty of action around the grass flats early.
The Flounder bite has picked up with some very nice fish being taken on both gig and rod-and-reel. Live Bull Minnows will be the best live baits around piers, jetties and bulkheads. Working the bottom with both curltail and paddletail grubs is a great way to target them through the fall. Keep the baits moving with plenty of action but make sure they stay close to the bottom. Boat slips with deep depressions are excellent spots for flipping jigs for Flounder. I usually do best on brighter colors like pearl white or chartreuse.
Water temperatures in the surf are still in the low 80s but the Pompano have been showing up in good numbers. Getting on the water early and fishing baits deeper in the trough is the best way to target Pomps until water temps dip into the upper 70s. Sand Fleas and Ghost Shrimp have been fairly available and will make the best baits but fresh, cut, pieces of shrimp or frozen sand fleas will work too. Some Whiting have been caught lately but the main surf by-catch has been large Bluefish, Ladyfish and Redfish. Fishing 20lb leaders will keep leader-shy Pompano biting and help you lose less tackle to the toothy and rough mouthed incidental species.
Just offshore, there are still plenty of King and Spanish Mackerel to be taken inside of 10 miles. Pulling the typical Mackerel spreads of spoons, dusters and planer rigs will take plenty, but make sure to keep a deep diving plug like a Mann's Stretch 25+ mixed in the trolling spread. We usually score big Kings on these as well as the bonus Wahoo every now and then. Vary your speeds from 4-6 knots until you get bites.
Bottom fishing has been very good and the Grouper fishing in particular has been getting better closer in. For the majority of the season you needed to be in 180+ft of water to consistently catch nice Grouper but we are starting to get larger Gags and Red Grouper in depths of 100-140ft. Large live baits including Ruby Lips, Pinfish, Beeliners and similar will do best of Grouper. If you are targeting Scamp, try downsizing the bait and termainal gear and mix in some dead baits like whole, small squid. Another fun way to grouper fish is with jigs, working them fairly slowly near the bottom. Large buckatail jigs and Squidtil Jigs do well with this but they will also hit metal "buttefly" style jigs and diamond jigs.
Other bottom targets right now include Vermillion Snapper, Mangrove Snapper, Almaco Jack and deep dropping for Snowy and Yellowedge Grouper, Golden Tilefish, Longtail Bass and a few others. You can catch Greater Amberjack but they are out of season and will have to be released. That shouldn't stop you from going out and getting your arms pulled out of socket by a big AJ. They're a ton of fun to catch and release.
The billfish bite is still excellent and Wahoo are showing up in better numbers now. A few boats in the past week caught three species of billfish in a day and the boat "Controlled Chaos" nearly had a super slam catching Blue and White Marlin, a Spearfish and losing a Swordfish. With Sailfish generally showing up in better numbers in September and October, there are great billfish slam opportunities right now.
Reminders on seasons:
-Greater Amberjack, Red Snapper and Gray Triggerfish are closed in federal waters
-Gray Triggerfish is open in Florida State Waters and you will need both a Florida and Alabama license to retain Triggers caught in Fl state waters. IF targeting Triggers in Fl state waters or if you are in possession of Triggers, do not stray in federal waters afterward or you will be subject to fines.
Let's hope for good weather and calm seas this coming week. Good luck to everyone!
Sam's Bait and Tackle
27122 Canal Rd
Orange Beach, Al 36561
Some pics from the past two weeks, including a nice Blue Marlin caught by Sam's customer Archie Mcmillian and his crew on a TLD 25. A White marlin and some Dolphin from Capt. Adam Peeples with One Shot Charters and a few others from my past two weeks, inshore and off. There's also a good side-by-side pic of an Unfair Rip-N-Slash after a couple of trips. Definitely my favorite, new, inshore lure