September marks the first month of our transition into fall here in the Tampa Bay area. Fall fishing is some of the most productive fishing of the entire year. This is especially true on artificials and flies. Vast schools of baitfish will be all over the flats and this, in turn, attracts predators. When the water temps fall just slightly this triggers snook, redfish, and trout to go on the feed.
The redfish action has picked up considerably in the last few weeks. While targeting redfish you should concentrate your efforts around high tides. Working mangrove shorelines and oyster bars can be extremely productive. I like to throw the Z-man Paddler-Z in pearl or redbone on most days. Redfish will also take the Rapala Skitterwalk early in the day. On lower water, live bait fishermen should concentrate on deeper potholes on the flat. My go to fly for redfish this time of year is the foxy Clouser minnow.
Snook fishing is very good right now with lots of small and medium fish in the backcountry. The biggest fish are still on the gulf edge and surrounding islands. As water temps cool these fish will migrate back inside the bay and it will kick off the best snook fishing of the year. Top water plugs can produce epic days. The Super Spook in Bone and the Skitterwalk in silver are great options. When throwing flies I like the EP baitfish patterns and the deceiver in white.
Tarpon are still around and will be available until the first real cold fronts arrive. Late-season tarpon spots are closely guarded but concentrate your efforts on slick calm mornings. They can be spotted from a distance while rolling and be approached on the trolling motor or push pole. They will eat plugs like the Mirrodine XL or a pinfish under a cork. I like tan toads and EP peanut butter in black and purple this time of year. This fish eats extremely well when you get the fly in front of them.The weather is great and the fishing opportunities are endless. Snapper, trout, permit and grouper are other options in the fall.
See you on the flats,
Capt. Brandon Henley