September is always a spectacular fishing month at Merry Pier in Pass-A-Grille, and this year proved no exception. Huge schools of bait fish continue to hang around the Pier, drawing in a variety of predators large and small.
The surprise fish this September was redfish. While it’s not unusual to catch redfish here, it IS unusual to see over 50 caught within a couple of hours. Big schools of hungry redfish have been ranging under and near the Pier, including ‘rat reds’ in the 12” to 18” range, along with some bruisers up to 33” – and bigger. Best baits include live shrimp fished on the bottom, as well as lively greenbacks. The redfish have been hungry, so if they’re around, you’ll know it. Remember to check current regulations – licensed anglers are allowed to keep one redfish per day, with a slot size between 18” and 27”. All others should be quickly returned to the water.
Mackerel fisherman have been loading up as well. A high tide, and a good current flow are the keys. When the mackerel are around, the make their presence known by aggressively slashing through the bait schools, sometimes launching out of the water in the process. A long shank hook and a freelined greenback have resulted in the most hookups, although any bright, shiny lure retrieved rapidly will work too.
Black drum have been cruising around with the redfish, and can range from small 14” fish up to 20 pound giants. They love live shrimp, and will put up a battle when hooked. Currently, the limit is 5 per angler per day, with a slot of 14” to 24”. You are allowed to keep one black drum over 24”.
Snook continue to lurk in the shallows. Keep an eye out, and you may spot a big one (or several) in the shallows. They’re not easy to hook, and they’re even harder to land. The snook slot is 28” to 32”, and only one per day is allowed. Snook season closes December 1st, so get ‘em while you can. A pinfish, pigfish or jumbo live shrimp are best baits.
Snapper are still around. While there are less than during peak summer months, the fish are bigger now, with many over 12”. Grouper, both red and gag, are being caught, although legal fish are rare. A few sheepshead can be seen around the Pier’s pilings from time to time. Flounder have been spotty, but some quality fish have been taken. Giant schools of big jacks occasionally make their presence known by attacking bait schools – a sight that’s pretty spectacular, as hundreds of these fish boil the water, scattering bait in every direction.
Be sure to check with the Merry Pier staff for updated information on what’s biting. Tight lines!