Sun, surf and fishing is what spring break in Florida is all about. This spring has given us some of best weather Florida has to offer and plenty of hungry fish as well. Our main target species is redfish but my clients have had a blast catching chomper blues cast after cast!
Hitting the shallows at the right tide has given my anglers great opportunities to land several nice redfish on live bait or lures. My favorite bait this time of year is a quartered crab but the most exciting is with topwater plugs.
This weeks fishing has been fast and furious when redfish schools are located. Most of my clients were down to see the Nascar races at Daytona and take advantage of the great warm Florida weather we are experiencing.
From topwater plugs to live bait, redfish have been chewing and screaming drags. Best bite has been on the falling tide on the shallow flats of Palm Coast. The creeks at dead low incoming have produced fish as well with live shrimp.
Well it’s the first of the year and I hope your new years resolution has something to do with spending more time in the outdoors. Grab those new polarized sunglasses you got for Christmas and hit the flats as the reds are schooled up and eating good! Red fishing on the flats isn’t an early morning ritual like in the summer; waiting for the sun to rise and warm the waters is your best bet. A low mid morning incoming tide is a perfect scenario as the sun heats the oyster beds and once the tide floods schools of redfish will sit on these hot spots for warmer water. Approach the school with stealth as not to alert the school of your presence before getting into casting distance. Z-man paddle tails or flies are my choices for catching redfish. Once the school is on the move bomb a Sebile Stick Shadd out in front of the school twitch a few times and hook up!
Creek fishing for Seatrout is about as sure as it gets this time of year. Jigging for Trout in creek holes with a ¼ ounce Slayer Jig and Slayer inc. SST (paddle tail) will get the attention of every schoolie in the hole. Most Trout will be on the small side but if numbers is your game, creek hole fishing is the place. Small Reds also occupy the same creek holes and can be caught with live shrimp; small split shot and a Daiichi 82Z 1/0 circle hook.
Fly fisherman get great opportunities on landing the elusive Sheaphead on fly this month. Sheaphead can be found on the most oyster-laden flats during low incoming tides, these striped bandits will be foraging for oyster crabs so a crab pattern is the best fly for the job. If fly fishing isn’t your thing, live bait fishing with fiddler crabs and a fish finder rig vertically fished around bridges, docks and rocks will put the bend in the rod.
It’s that time of year to practice your cast netting technique as the mullet are running in full force! Net a well full of mullet and head to your local inlet with an assortment of weights to hold bottom (which can change as the tide speeds up or slow down) different size leaders as you never know what you will encounter. When the mullet run is in full swing you can hook everything and anything from redfish to tarpon.
Fishing the inlet for redfish is best during change of tides but not always necessarily true as some spectacular days have been had within the last two hours of outgoing tide. A fish finder rig with enough weight to hold bottom, 18 inch leader and 3/0-5/0 Daiichi circle hook is a rig I like to use to catch redfish and flounder. (For flounder change that hook to a j hook instead of a circle for a better hook up). Make sure you have at least 20lb. test line as the current will make a 6 lb. redfish feel more like a 20lber. Once the tide goes slack start dragging the bottom with your fish finder rig for flounder as this is doormat season. Tarpon can also be seen rolling and crashing bait while fishing the inlet so free line a live mullet with a circle hook and set it in the rod holder.
Heading inshore a topwater lure at first light will get blown up around areas that are holding bait. Once the topwater bite slows down you can switch to artificial lures that “match the hatch” which will be mullet so jerk baits, paddle tails and spoon are great lures. If live bait is your thing I would toss two lines out, one live mullet and another rod with cut mullet and see which one the fish like best. Best areas to target are oyster beds during low or high tides or shorelines at high tide that are holding mullet.
Night time dock light fishing is still great as trout, lady fish and snook will be popping the bait that drifts by the light all night long. Live shrimp is a local favorite hooked on a 1/0 circle hook and bb split shot. When you run out of shrimp go for the artificial lures like a D.O.A shrimp that will get just as many bites.
Snook should be great this month in the southern region of the county. Tomoka Basin is best fished on outgoing tides concentrating on the mosquito controls creek mouths with either live bait or artificial lures. Expect to catch not only snook but redfish, trout and juvenile tarpon as well. October brings us some great fishing so get out there and catch um!
September marks the autumn bait movement that will eventually turn into the fall “mullet run” by months end. Starting your mornings off with topwater lures that resemble a mullet like the Rapala skitter walk or Spook Jr. will produce redfish, trout and snook. Cast topwaters parallel to ICW banks, over flooded oyster beds or docks that are holding mullet to find the “trophies”.
September’s full and new moons brings the tidal waters up into the Spartina grass where Redfish and Sheephead will be found tailing and gorging themselves on all sorts of crustaceans. Bailing from the skiff and wading with the fly rod and a rattle crab pattern is one way to hook up or a live shrimp hooked through the tail with a Daiichi Octopus wide bait hook.
Snook and Tarpon will be in the canals feeding during low light conditions, a live select shrimp will trigger a bite from both species. Lead a rolling Tarpon with a live select shrimp on a Daiichi 3/0 circle hook and a loose drag to help your chances of landing the Silver King. Pitching the docks with live shrimp will get the attention of most linesiders (Snook) especially when encountering a school and the competition factor kicks in. Remember to handle snook with care as they have had a few rough winters and snook numbers are still low.
Area inlets will host Flounder and Bull Reds during the change of tides, a live 6-inch mullet on a fish finder rig will get the doormats to the boat. The fish finder rig consists of a 1/0-3/0 DaiichiD18Z hook with a 10-inch piece of 30lb fluorocarbon leader, a good swivel, glass bead and ¾-1 ounce egg sinker. Once you cast this rig, slowly drag and pump it back to the boat keeping contact with the bottom. For creek flounder a mud minnow or finger mullet on a ¼ ounce Slayer inc. Destroyer jig head fished around creek bends. A knocker rig with a 6-ounce weight a Daiichi 5/0 circle hook and cut or live mullet/ pogie will be the choice set up for Bull Reds at the inlet. Just remember take time to revive these breeder reds and get them back in the water as quickly as possible.
Trout catches can still be expected to be best at night fishing the dock lights, a live free lined shrimp or non weighted artificial tossed up current and drifted through the lights will produce Trout and Snook. Remember to wet hands before handling fish if you plan on doing some catch and release.
Welcome all vacationers to Palm Coast and surrounding areas. We are having a great redfish bite this summer! early morning starts are not a must but do help with coping with this Florida heat. Not only have the flats been fair to my anglers but the near shore bite for tarpon, sharks and kings have been good as well.
Call Palm Coast Fishing to book your family vacation fishing charter with one of our experienced guides.
With all the bait showing up the last few weeks, redfish, trout, flounder and snook have not been watching their weight and fattening up for swim suit season. Early morning bite has been real good with topwater plugs during the higher tides where bait is visible. Once the sun gets high switch to soft plastics like slayer inc. jerk baits on 1/8 ounce jig heads for redfish, trout and snook.
Live bait fisherman have been doing well with live shrimp or mud minnow on jig heads bumped across the bottom of creek holes for flounder. Take your time with a slow retrieve and wait for the thump, even then give it time before setting the hook on a flattie.