Summer is drawing to an end, it’s still hotter than Hades out there, but change is on the way. The next couple months we will witness a transition in our weather and fishing patterns as the days get shorter and temperatures begin to decline to a more comfortable level. We usually see some tropical activity as well around this time with tropical waves, storms and the possibility of a hurricane (keep your fingers crossed, nothing major comes around). The resulting storms will dump lots of rain and bring with them lots of wind which will cool down the inshore and nearshore waters to a more desirable level. Right now the water temperatures are the equivalent of a hot tub, not much relief comes jumping in.
The cooling down process of these storms has a dramatic affect on the inshore fishery in the Keys, both negative and positive. On the negative side, as fish that frequent the flats and backcountry waters feel the sharp change in barometric pressure as a storm nears, will head off to the safety and comfort of deeper water until the storm passes. If the storm is strong enough to produce very high winds, this will muddy up the water as well, making the flats and backcountry areas practically unfishable.
On the positive side, the water temperatures will fall considerably, more to the liking of the gamefish we pursue on the flats. Once the water clears and the weather stabilizes it seems these fish come back in better numbers than before the weather hit. Also, many of the flats I’ve been avoiding most of the summer and early fall because it was just too hot to bother fishing are now available again.
So what’s going on out there on the flats and backcountry waters around Key West? Well, pretty much the same as it has been since June with a few exceptions. We will still find tarpon, mostly babies that hang around the backcountry creeks and mangrove islands, but there are still a few big tarpon milling around. Bonefishing historically is excellent these couple months, with the bigger fish of the year showing up on the flats. Later on in October we should start to see more jacks and barracudas on the flats. Jacks and cudas are always a crowd pleaser, very eager to eat and a great fighting fish.
In the backcountry basins, I’ve had really good success catching sea trout. Its not something I do on a regular basis, usually out of necessity if sight fishing conditions are poor. On several occasions over the years my clients have nothing but quality sea trout. Usually we have to catch a hundred ladyfish and jacks for every trout, not a bad problem to have I guess!
I didn’t mention permit earlier only because they are a constant on the flats all year. Except for really cold conditions immediately following a strong cold front, permit can be found on the flats just about anywhere and at anytime.
The next couple months, fishing on the flats and in the backcountry is still, for the most part, same as it has been all summer. With shorter days and cooler weather gradually approaching we will begin to see the change over to winter fishing as we get deeper into autumn. I love the heat, but I do welcome cooler temperatures and spending all day on the water once again.
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