by Capt. Tom Van Horn
Let me begin this forecast by wishing everyone a happy and safe Labor Day weekend, and while we are enjoying the end of summer, let's not forget those in service of our great country who are on duty for our freedom and safety and also let's keep the folks in Texas in our prayers.
Trophy Mosquito Lagoon Redfish
I'm often asked the question, what is the best time of year to catch trophy redfish? Well, the answer is right now. September is the month the breeder redfish school up for the spawn in the Mosquito, Banana River and Indian River Lagoons as well as inlet passes of Ponce and Sebastian, so it's a good time to target these breeder fish.
September also marks the beginning of the fall bait migration, primarily silver mullet, which increase as we progress into October and November. It is hard to predict precisely when and how strong the run will be, but along with the arrival of the bait, come the predatory species we love so much.
My lure selection for these breeder schools this time of year is a DOA Bait Buster with a single hook instead of trebles. I like the shallow runner in natural mullet colors when the school is near the water's surface and the deep runner when fishing the deeper water of the inlets and near-shore.
Look for snook, tarpon, jack crevalle, sharks, and large kingfish crushing bait pods along the beach. The pods are easily located by watching for fish and birds busting the bait. Once you've determined the direction of fish movement, usually south, simply set up in front and let them come to you. This is my preferred time of year for targeting snook and tarpon along the beach.
Beach Snook During the Mullet Run
The beach snook run started last month with a few fish already showing up, and it will began to pick up substantially, just in time for the opening of snook season on September 1st.
The technique I like use for beach fishing is to simply slide a ½ to 1 once barrel sinker onto your line, next attach a swivel which will serve as a stop for the weight, and help keep your line from twisting as it rolls down the beach. I use about 24 inches of heavy leader, 30 to 50 pound test, and a large Daiichi Bleeding Bait circle hook. You'll need to step up both the hook and leader size if tarpon are present.
My favorite bait is a live finger mullet, fishing the very edge of the surf, casting just beyond the white water. Walk slowly along with the direction of tidal flow, so your bait does not wash in with the waves. The same system will work for tarpon, just cast it out further, and make sure you have adequate tackle and line capacity to handle these mighty fish.
Near-shore, good numbers of kingfish will continue to work the beaches, wrecks and reefs. When fishing for kings, slow trolling live pogies is one of the most productive methods.
As always, if you have any questions or need more information, please contact me.
Good luck and good fishing,
Capt. Tom Van Horn