As soon as I walked outside a few mornings back I noticed it was fall. It was unmistakable.
The first low humidity morning in months and months. Not quite crisp, but thinking about it.
Clima-tologists are calling for some bone-chilling events this year and I hope they're wrong as our rebounding snook population doesn't need another catastrophe.
Capt. George Tunison
Like most I enjoy redfishing in skinny water. For the next couple of months we are in prime time for big schools of reds to be roaming a flat or bar near you. I like being on the water way before sun-up and set up in my chosen location. Quietly moving and casting around islands or channel structure in the darkness with a large topwater or subsurface MirrOlure I first target snook.
As they slowly fade away from the beaches toward inland wintering locations, they are likely to be almost anywhere right now and predawn is my favorite time to hunt them. Mangrove islands a few miles back from the passes are great spots to start.
Dawn is quiet time and stomping feet, loud talking, and banging deck lids is a sure fire way to say adios to chances of bagging that 50-incher. Pole or drift. If you must use the troll motor chose a slow speed. Fish react badly to a motor constantly being turned on and off rather than kept at a constant slow speed. Again pole, wade, or drift.
As the sun slowly begins painting the sky pink and gold I switch to redfish mode and move toward my flat blind casting a topwater till there is enough light to look for tails or nervous water indicating a school. When the sun breaks the horizon the weapon of choice is a long limber rod, 15-pound Power Pro to a swivel, to a 20-pound fluorocarbon leader, then to a shiny spoon.
There is no better search lure than the spoon. Cast it far and cover ground. Long rods and braided lines coupled with sharp hooks allow long casts and solid hookups even at the far beginning of your retrieve.
Remember to not reel too fast causing the spoon to spin. A nice flashing side-to-side wobble calls them in. A high quality swivel is a must for a dedicated spoon rod.
Want to pull on a giant without spending offshore money? Head on down to your nearest bridge span at the Sanibel Causeway. Bring monster gear spooled with 300-pound braid, a SPRO swivel, and heavy mono leader. Drop down a ladyfish alive or dead, a ray or jack preferably live, or actually a three-pack of Oscar Myer's dogs soaked in chum oil probably would work as well. Then brace your self.
Like any grouper, the Goliath loves to live in and around structure. If given an inch they usually are history, but the trouble is they go 400-500 pounds. This battle is won or lost at the beginning. This is not finesse fishing. This is bring the pliers and crank down the drags gorilla fishing, and not recommended for those not committed to doing battle. Get the bite then yank and crank to get him away from bottom clutter and pier which can be a tall order when suddenly confronted with a beast of these proportions.
Wearing safety glasses is a plus as huge graphite rods explode and splinter, especially if the angler gives in and rests the rod on the boat's gunnels. Try a stand-up harness and make sure the decks are clear as there won't be time when it's "on"
We see grouper with lips full of hooks trailing yards of broken lines. Attempting to catch one of these big boys with anything but monster sized gear is not recommended. You will most likely loose your gear and, worse, damage or possibly kill the animal. Keep him in the water till strong before releasing. Good luck!