The weather is starting to change. A little bit of Fall is in the air. This will bring the water temperatures down a few degrees. As the water cools the flounder numbers will increase.
The flounder will be the new target in the up coming months. Things should really start up in the later part of October. The best way to target flounder in to cover a lot of ground. Use a 3/8 to 1/2 ounce jig head with almost any kind of soft plastic tail. Cast out the jig, let it hit bottom and slowly bounce it along the bottom as you reel it in. Snap your rod tip sharply and count to 5, repeat. This will keep the jig hopping along the bottom in the flounder’s strike zone. If you feel weight on your next snap of the rod, let it sit for a few seconds. This will give the flounder a chance get the hook in his mouth. Then gently lift up and start reeling, if the “weight” starts coming to you, you have a flounder. Never lift the flounder’s head out of the water once you get the fish to the dock. Lifting his head out will cause him to shake his head and quite often spitting the hook. Best to use a long dip net and scoop him up before he hits the surface. The bite will come and go during the day. The outgoing tide seems to be the best. Minimum size to keep a flounder is 12 inches.
Mangrove snapper is still going strong as of late September. Limits of 5 snapper per person is still a common occurrence. Cast net your own bait or use medium size shrimp.
Snook fishing has been good but the slot size fish have been elusive at the pier. Snook will still be along the Pass a Grille and Shell Key beaches until our first few cold fronts roll in. The snook will then start to leave the beaches and passes to look for warmer water in the residential canals.
Gag grouper fishing on the pier is still slow but may pick up when the water cools down. Grouper have been caught in the 15-21 inch range, just shy of keeper size.
Our Offshore boats – Miss Pass a Grille and Offshore Hustler have been very productive with the red grouper. All day charters on the Hustler have limited out on red grouper. All day trips on the Miss PAG have come in with good number of red grouper and a few Hogfish. Hogfish used to be strictly a spearfishing catch, but over the last year have become quite a common hook & line surprise. To target hogfish use a light fluorocarbon leader, a 2 ounce egg sinker and a small no. 1 hook. Shrimp is the bait of choice. Bring at least 3 dozen because you will have to work through a bunch of Key West grunts to get to the hogfish. Be patient.
Be respectful of all fish. If not within the legal sizes please release them in a timely manner. It is your responsibility to know the Florida fish limits, if unsure please ask us at the pier and we will be happy to help you out.
Thanks, Merry Pier