As summer comes to a close, we move into fall, leaving behind the exceptionally hot days that define summer here in the Keys. Known as a transitional period, September and October are months when lots of bait show up and local waters begin to cool down. This is my favorite time of year, as the kids are back in school and, with every passing day, the fishing keeps getting better. Commonly known as “off-season” here in the Keys, these are our slow time months as many businesses close for a few weeks, charters slow, and many locals go on vacation. The local waters are quiet, with the exception of Labor Day weekend, and weekends in general, however, there is a lot to look forward to during these next few months.
First off, is the opening of snook season, beginning September 1st, giving backcountry anglers another reason to venture on to local waters, both during the day and at night. Stone crab season begins October 15th and is something many of us look forward to. As well as the arrival of our first tastes of winter, with the early cold fronts of the fall arriving late September or in October--every year tends to be different.September and October are prime time for permit and bonefish on the flats. I spend a majority of my time during charters targeting these two species with success. This can be done on both fly and spin tackle, with the weather being the determining factor as to which type of tackle gives you the best odds. Two of my favorite flies for both species has to be the Permit Crab and the Quivering Fringe made by S.S. Flies (www.ssflies.com). The Permit Crab comes in three sizes, with the smallest a bonefish killer, while the next two larger sizes perfect for permit. The Quivering Fringe comes in only one size because that is all you need. However, you can order custom sizes if you desire, as S.S. Flies caters to anglers’ desires. For you bait slingers out there, permit love a small live crab, so if you plan on going, make sure you have a live well full of crabs.
Every year during October we experience a phenomenon called the KING tide, this is the year’s highest astronomical tide that causes minor coastal flooding. Basically, the tides will be really high and low. All this moving water is great for fishing the backcountry, as well as the oceanside flats. During this time, we typically see our annual finger mullet migration, that lasts for a few weeks, attracting snook, tarpon, jacks, snapper, barracuda, sharks, and a whole lot more. Last year, this took place during the last weeks of September and finished in late October. Every year is different and these are the best baits to have this time of year.
For those of you who know me, know that, to me, fishing is more than just a game, it is a way of life. So fish hard and fish often!
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