Fall in Florida can be very deceitful, compared to the rest of the United States. Typically, it means a rollercoaster ride of hot, cold, hot, cold, and throw in some wind. Despite that ride, it can also be one of the best fishing times of the year. Fall appears to be arriving overnight tonight, as out first cold front is pushing through. Today we are in the upper 80's, with high humidity. Tomorrow it will be in the 70's to 80. Not a huge difference, but the biggest change will be the humidity. The drop in humidity will allow us to spend entire days on the water, without dripping sweat and feeling like we were in a sauna all day. The only challenge will become the wind. Our winds will change from predominantly south and east to the north; they typically increase in speed too, going from 5-10 average to 15-20. While the winds can make poling a little more tiring, the true challenge comes in casting. Anglers need to be prepared to cast into the wind and know how to use it to their advantage. Lefty Kreh, God rest his soul, has plenty of videos discussing fly casting in the wind and how to overcome it. For the spin/baitcaster anglers, it means knowing how to use the rod to your advantage and actually cast it, instead of lobbing it.
So, what will fall bring as far as fish go? Right now the annual mullet run is going on. Due to rough conditions along the coast, from King Tide conditions and storms, many of the mullet have been pushed inside the river systems. Of course, the predators follow them right in. Jacks, snook, ladyfish, redfish, seatrout, tarpon, and more are quite happy to enjoy an abundance of prey inside the rivers, where they can utilize the shorelines, seawalls, docks, and mangroves to ambush unsuspecting finger mullet as they work their way south. This is a great time to find "blitzes" throughout the area. It is a spectacle to behold; watching a school of fish push mullet to an area of no escape and then an absolute feeding frenzy taking place. I watched a school of jacks last week work a school of baitfish onto a shoreline. A few pops on the outside of the baitfish forced them toward the shore. Once the baitfish were crowded along the shoreline, with no place to run, the full frenzy started. It looked like grenades being thrown in the water as jacks exploded and baitfish were thrown into the the air. With each explosion, the school of baitfish got smaller and smaller. Finally, there were only intermittent strikes and within a few minutes, there were no baitfish left. Going to the area, there were silver scales and bits of flesh all over the water, which the seagulls were happy to take.
The hardest part of this action is getting them to pay attention to your offering instead of the hundreds of baitfish they are trying to eat. This is where topwater poppers work well. Top Dogs, Jitterbugs, Zara Spooks, and Popper Flies look like an injured baitfish, make noise to attract attention, and are just too hard for hungry fish to pass up. A tip for landing more fish on topwater: don't set the hook when you see the strike, set it when you actually feel the weight of the fish. Too many times, clients get excited from the visual aspect and keep pulling the popper out of the fish's mouth. Also, I switch all of my topwaters from treble hooks to single, in-line hooks. I have great hook-up ratios with them and even more importantly, they are much easier to unhook from fish or your hand.
Cooler temperatures will also help with clearing our water up. The end of August and September were not kind to out waters, as we finally received the algae bloom we were hoping wouldn't come. The cooler temperatures will lower the water temperatures, which inhibits the growth of these algae. We could also use a break from the torrential rains, and hopefully winter will be relatively dry. On the last trip, visibility in some areas was down to a few inches; not very conducive for sight fishing. his will change and we should be back to decent conditions relatively quickly, unless we have another temperature spike in the 90s.
Now is the time to plan and book your trips. Take some time away from all of the world issues we face and come enjoy Florida's natural environment. It is beautiful and can help to clear the mind, re-energize the soul, and get you prepared for the upcoming months and year. With everything we have gone through this year, you owe it to yourself. The boat and tackle are cleaned and disinfected daily, for everyone's protection. In fact, they are electrostatically sprayed with a treatment that is FDA approved for killing everything from the common cold to Covid-19. I make my "office" as safe for everyone as possible. In addition, cancellation policies have been completely lifted, just in case you book and then start feeling ill. If you have any questions, email or call me and I will be very happy to discuss any and all details.