We are half way through September and the last couple weeks you can really tell we are in ‘off season’ mode here in Islamorada, Florida Keys. I was out of town for a couple weeks the last part of August getting married and have been back here since early September. I’ve only fished a few days mostly for fun and a couple charters, but its that time of year to relax and take a breath. Business was extremely good this year and I was fishing every day up until I left, so I’ve been doing some work on the boat and enjoying myself a bit too. Anyways the fishing has been fairly good the few times I’ve been out, and I’ve been talking to others who have been getting out here and there. Still some tarpon in the backcountry we caught a nice 70 lb fish last Saturday. Tarpon fishing is definitely still a viable option through October, and we also usually get an insane ‘fall bait run’ during the month so if your here during that, tarpon fishing can be epic before things really cool down. Also we caught several goliath groupers with the big rods that day. We finished the day with some lunker mangrove snappers (2 to 3 lbs!) we caught drifting chunks, and had some snook action too. The snook and redfish fishing should continue to get better as we get into October, as things cool down and these fish move into the deeper creeks, canals, moats, and other areas where larger boats like mine fish them in the fall and winter. Many of the local shorelines and islands are loading up with small pilchards (baitfish) which is the norm this time of year. Once we really get into the fall these guys should grow in size and will be great bait for both offshore and inshore fishing. They are what we like to call ‘snook candy’! I was out sight fishing for fun yesterday with a fellow captain and we had a blast. We poled some shallow shorelines areas and around some islands in the backcountry around flamingo. We saw about a dozen redfish and a dozen snook, though only had a few bites out of the reds and landed a couple nice ones. The snook were leary and not interested in the shrimp we offered them. But it was very cool to be on the bow doing that as I don’t get to do much of it myself when running my boat! The best part about fishing the next couple of months though is just being out there. The boat traffic we see in the spring and early summer is gone, so you often feel like you have the entire backcountry/everglades all to yourself. As things cool off too look for the spanish mackerel fishing in the gulf to pick up, that is always a great option for rod bending action and those fish can pull some drag! Plenty of big blacktip sharks usually in the mix with them as well as other varieties of fish. The patch reef fishing heats up too with hogfish, porgy, grouper, snapper, and the like – perfect if you want a half day trip of eatin’ fish! Drop me a line and lets go fishing this is a great time of year to get out!
Capt. Rick Stanczyk