September and October are, by far, my favorite months for kayak fishing in the Lower Keys. For my clients who have flexibility in their schedules, this is the time I recommend they come. In past years, I’ve seen and caught my two personal best permit (each 35” fork length), as well as larger than average bonefish, weighing in around 8 pounds. Last year, myself and two friends found ourselves staring at literally hundreds of tailing bones one glorious morning, resulting in each of us landing four fish on fly in only a few hours of kayak fishing. Small to medium-sized tarpon should be plentiful as well. Tide flows in the fall are the biggest of the year, while “tourist flows” and fishing pressure is minimal. These two factors combine to bring a lot of hungry, happy, relaxed fish into the shallows. So, if you happen to be in the Keys right now, ring me up and let’s go get ‘em! Or, if you are going to head out on your own, here are a few tips:
1. The incoming tides bring a lot of water and fill in quickly, so try to be on your fishing spots early in the incoming tide. Once the water has flooded, it can be difficult to see the fish in 4 feet of water, due to the lower vantage point in our paddle craft. 2. Consider fishing further back in the mangroves than normal. All of that extra water will send fish exploring areas they don’t usually visit. 3. Stay as cool and hydrated as possible. Bring plenty of water, and consider fishing early mornings to beat the afternoon heat. 4. Keep an eye on the big weather picture, as in 5 to 7 days out. It is prime hurricane season right now. If it looks like something major is headed for the Keys, you’ll probably want to scurry back to the mainland, and let us locals get boarded up and ready. And if you’re not going to need that bottle of rum,…just sayin’.
Recent trips have been successful, as you can see from the pictures. Multi-day client, Frank, from Maryland, brought his Solo Skiff down and scored multiple bonefish and a gorgeous tarpon, as well as a fun morning targeting lemon sharks with his growing flyrod skills. Repeat client and terrific angler, 14-year-old, Austin, from North Carolina, wanted to catch his first tarpon, and we were able to stick it out through a rainy early morning and accomplish that goal. Local angler, Paul Reed, continued to up his game and got a personal best bonefish. High school teacher, Nick Beecher, fished with me one cloudy morning and got his first bone, plus jumped three tarpon. Justin, from Australia, brought his solid skills from saltwater fishing down under and got his first bonefish. And yours truly even found a little time to chuck a fly, resulting in some nice bones and tarpon. The only thing that’s been a bit disappointing this summer is the dearth of permit on the flats. I’m not sure why, but I’m just not seeing the numbers of permit I have in recent years. But to be fair to Mother Nature, the last 4 or 5 years have been very good permit fishing, and these things always come and go over time.
So, I’ll conclude this month’s article with a Fall Fishing Checklist:
1 If you know what you’re doing, get out there and fish!
2 If you don’t know what you’re doing, call me and we will get out there and fish!
3 Keep an eye on the weather in the tropics. Check it every day you’re here.
4 If a “big, nasty” (storm, that is) pops up, drop your unused rum by my place on your way out of town. We will put it to use here as we wait for the storm to pass!
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