by Capt. Tom Van Horn
Believe it or not, fall has arrived here in Central Florida. Shorter days and prevailing easterly breezes have set the stage for some excellent fishing. This past week the King Tide (highest I ever seen) and tropical squalls well offshore made fishing challenging, but conditions are improving and so is the catching.
The fall bait migration is in full swing on Florida’s central east coast with good concentrations of migrating baitfish working south down the beach and through the lagoon exciting both gamefish and angler alike. Triggered by shorter days, cooling water temperatures, and approaching cold fronts, pockets of mullet stream down the beach harassed by hungry predators. As the bait works its way south in the troughs of the surf, bluefish, ladyfish, jacks, Spanish mackerel, redfish and snook keep them hemmed up close along the surfs edge, with tarpon, blacktip and spinner sharks lurking in the waves eager to fulfill their position at the top of the food chain.
As the baitfish move out the inlets on the falling tide, breeder redfish, tarpon and snook, take advantage of the easy meal as the fleeing mullet are forced away from the shelter of the shoreline. Additionally, October and November are the best months to target snook at Sebastian Inlet if water temperatures stay above 70 degrees.
Once the water temperatures near the 68-degree mark southern and gulf flounder moving through the inlets usually follow the first major cold front. It is difficult to predict the precise moment of the run, but serious flounder pounders know when the moment is right, and they’re often rewarded with doormats from 8 to 14 pounds.
In the deeper water, both tripletail and cobia move into the depths of 40 to 60 feet of water shadowing pods of threadfin herring (greenies) and Spanish sardines (cigar minnows) pushing south along the Canaveral shoals, often hanging just below the abundant flotsam carried inshore by the easterly breezes. Once you locate weeds and other debris, look for tripletail to be hanging just below the floating structure. Live shrimp and small jigs tipped with shrimp work well when targeting these brim on steroids. It helps to fish later in the day keeping the afternoon sun to your back to improve your range of sight, and always keep a medium heavy rod rigged with a one ounce chartreuse or white buck tail jig ready to throw to any cruising cobia.
Also, look for the fall kingfish run to commence as well as an occasional sailfish or black fin tuna on the near-shore reefs and wrecks like 8A and Pelican Flats.
In the lagoons, breeder schools of redfish are in deeper water through the north IRL. These schools of oversized redfish are our brood stock, so if you target them please step up your tackle size (20-pound test) and handle and release them with extreme care. In addition, schools of pompano will begin forming up and moving thought the inlets invading the beach in search of mole crabs (sand fleas) their favorite winter food.
As always if you have any questions or need information please contact me.
Good luck and good fishing,
Captain Tom Van Horn