Fall inshore reds are schooling and looking to bite your spoon. I get emails asking my favorites.
Head to Cape Tool & Tackle or Economy Tackle and try my favorite set up. Ask for a handful of WAHOO Redfish Key gold hammered spoons, also grab a box of OWNER Stinger Treble Hooks (ST-66TN 4X - #4) (model # 5666-079) and head home.
At the bench, take off the feathered treble hook and replace with the non-feathered and much stronger OWNER treble. Some like feathers some don't. For me, I like flash and a strong treble hook. I've lost too many big reds to the supplied light wire hooks and my non-feathered hooks still seem to catch a lot of redfish.
If it's weedy try the classic Johnsons Spoon or go low and slow with a Nemire Red Ripper.
Fish them on a 7 1/28 1/2-foot medium light limber rod with 1520-pound braid. Top with a 20-pound fluorocarbon leader. Tie line to line or better, use a tiny swivel to connect your leader. No, not a cheap, giant offshore swivel, fish have eyes too, you know! Use only SPRO swivels. We use the 35-pound test model. Tiny, strong, and I've never had a failure with one.
This rig will cast a mile and hook and hold big reds. When searching for reds covering ground is key. You won't find a better search bait or a better lure choice once you've found a school.
Fall also brings two of my favorite light tackle sport fish, the mackerels and bonito. Light spinning reels and fly rods are the best way to enjoy these fun fish and once located can be caught on every cast. If you don't see birds actively working a bait school or just sitting on the surface troll the area with small spoons or jigs till you find them or anchor and chum them into a frenzy at boat side.
A med 7-7 1/2-foot spinner with some half-ounce white bucktails and a school of 15-pound mini tunas in September or October? I'm in hog heaven as the drag screams and screams.
If anchored and fishing Spanish macs, always have a sleeper rod working for you. Put out a bigger rod with a large ladyfish, blue runner, whatever you have for that 50-pound kingfish roaming around the area. Don't set that drag too tight or you'll have a pulled hook.
If you happen upon a school with a boat or two enjoying the fast fishing don't be the knucklehead that motors right into the feeding frenzy putting the school down and signaling game over for the other anglers. Stay back and pick at the edges of the school. Play nice.
Because Spanish are such willing biters, this is a great time of year to get the kids that have "short fishing attention span syndrome" involved in outdoor activities. With a fish a minute they'll soon forget about blowing up, dismembering, and shooting their computer game enemies and actually enjoy real time, life. No experience needed. Round up a neighborhood crew and take them on a mackerel mission with a prize for the biggest and smallest. Their parents will love you as well.
Attach a short piece of wire leader to your mono leader with an Albright knot. Use the Haywire twist to attach your lure or your hook. Don't like messing with wire, then go to a straight 40-pound fluorocarbon leader and get more bites than wire, but also lose more tackle and fish. Toss out a topwater plug and retrieve with a fast erratic action for some spectacular hits.
Fall: great weather, tarpon to tuna, grouper to kingfish, reds, trout, and snook. With miles of year-round flats, canal, river, backcountry, pass, and offshore fishing, it's good to live in Cape Coral!