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|Winter Pattern Settling In
A steady flow of cool fronts has been passing over the state the
past 2 weeks. Water temperatures are holding in the upper 60s and a winter pattern
Large yellow-mouth trout have been abundant in the shallows. Traditional cool water spots that include salt n pepper bottom, oyster bars, creek & river mouths, points, and channel edges are hold fish at the present. Smaller school size fish can be found on the open water flats behind Anclote Key, North Bar, and Howard Park. Trout are closed for harvest south of the Pasco line on the Gulf Coast.
Prior to last weeks full moon, redfish made a strong showing on the flats and creek mouths. While a few large schools were found just outside creek and river mouths, it seemed that a few could be caught on just about any stop intended for snook. Many of these fish were well above the slot limit and some were the largest Ive seen in the shallows around here, ever.!
Snook have been few and far between the past few trips. These fish have retreated to the backwater canals, creeks and far up the coastal rivers. Over a month ago we set record lows that sent many fish deep inside. While we experienced a great warming trend, consistent high north and east winds killed the bite in what should have been the peak of the fall migration. While a few days have seen great action on some big fish, many days were not even worth mentioning snook. Best bets now are to move miles up the backwaters. Work crank and twitch baits in places that are just as likely to catch a black bass as it would be a snook. Trolling deep running crankbaits (particularly at night) is a pioneered technique with me going back many moons. When the secret was revealed, it was the hottest game in town. The trend has faded to more modern hi-high tech methods in fishing here in the mecca of Pasco County and trolling has been all but forgotten. Savvy snookers will be found dredging the bottom of the rivers and canals following a simple formula to success the next few weeks. Nights, approaching fronts, full & new moon phases, low tides, structure, deep water and patience will see some of the largest fish of the year.
Nearshore, Spanish mackerel, kingfish, and grouper are being taken when the winds allow a trip to do so. The water has recently cooled to the optimum temperature for these species to peak. Expect the mackerel to be just off the beaches and on the deep grass flats. A few kings are being taken off the beach as well, but as in fall scenarios of years past, the bulk of the fish are sliding by in 40 to 70 feet of water offshore. Consistent grouper action will likely be found in 30 to 40 feet (north) with the passing of this weeks front.
It is very possible that the latest front will have pushed the sardines off the flats till next year. Those in the know will find a few splinter populations in secret honeyholes or on Indian summer afternoons. However, when it is time for the crickets to naturally move out, inshore gamefish tend not to respond to it, even if you have it during late fall. There is no better time to pursue fish on artificial lures. Jigs and twitch baits are deadly on cool water reds, trout, juvenile tarpon, pompano, jacks, permit, and bluefish. By changing your technique and what you fish for, late fall offers some of the most enjoyable fishing of the year.
Screaming drags and tired arms!
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