Howdy from Port Mansfield! It is nice to report that we will soon be receiving long overdue relief from summer heat. It has definitely been one for the books. For the record, I documented 91° water temperature one afternoon while fishing in a large pothole targeting snook. Water this hot might drive some reds and trout deep but not snook, they thrive in hot water. And since I stumbled onto a school, why not seize the opportunity? It’s kind of like being handed a bushel of lemons and turning them into lemonade.
Our waters are still in great shape and the tides have risen a bit. Additionally, redfish are beginning to school up, greatly welcome as our reds were scarce most of the summer. Our black drum population is in great shape and you can find schools most any day. Drum will hit plastic and I have found they prefer plum or strawberry. Keep in mind they will not respond to a plastic like a redfish or trout but if you are fishing a school you might get lucky and catch one or two. If you like eating fish you might keep one, they make excellent table fare.
We continue trying to get out of the harbor and reach our first stop just prior to sunrise. There is nothing better than tossing lures to awakening trout and reds while watching that pink glow come over the horizon. When starting out early and having multiple anglers fishing, we all start out throwing something different. Two or three anglers with soft plastics and one or two with topwaters. What a perfect formula to find out what fish are wanting.
However – and this a tip – don’t be the guy who instantly and continuously switches lures as soon as somebody gets a fish on something different. I see this often and laugh silently because I believe MOST of the time it is the angler, the cast, and the location of the fish in relation to the lure that draws the strike way more than the lure itself. More succinctly; – “It’s the Indian, not the arrow.” Wait for a definite pattern to emerge, then switch.
The most commonly observed pattern is going from topwaters to plastics and not the other way around. That’s why most savvy anglers start early with tops and then transition to plastics as the sun rises throughout the morning. You might wonder when is it time to switch from tops to plastics? Here is an example. You are throwing tops and fish are exploding on it and/or slurping it in and you are hooking and landing them steadily. Stay with tops! However, as the morning progresses you get more “slaps” or “swells” under your offering than actual takes. It’s time to switch over to plastics.
While on this topwater vs. plastic topic I will throw you a curve ball. If we are having a tough day and we have thrown everything in the tackle box at them with little or no response, I will reach for a topwater and never look back. No matter the time of day, no matter the water temperature, no matter how high the sun is. I believe at this point you have proven the fish are not eating, they are flat out not doing anything. So, I will try to rattle them, get them to respond out of spite or anger, or whatever. Hey folks, remember that we have ruled out everything else, we have been grinding for hours, so it’s time to go outside the box. In times such as this I have found some amount of success, not always a lot but some, banging a topwater at them. Something to consider.
With fall approaching and water temperatures cooling, our fishing should continue to improve. This is the “fishiest” season and you can catch just about everything in or at least near the bay. You can jump tarpon near passes and jetties and troll for kingfish just offshore. Heck, some have even been fortunate enough to hook tarpon while wading for trout and reds.
Topwater fishing should get explosive this month and continue into November. Soft plastics such as the KWigglers Willow Tail Shad will be the “big fish” bait when fishing shallow and as we continue to transition into winter. Fall fishing usually finds me throwing mid- to large-size topwaters instead of the smaller ones. One Knockers and Super Spooks will be in my wade box.
Take advantage of fall fishing – the most pleasurable time of year in my opinion. Remember to practice catch and release, we need to conserve this great fishery we have.