This week on the southern Matanzas River, the redfish bite has been quite the puzzle, going on-again-off-again like a flickering light. The presence of mullet has been equally inconsistent, sometimes here, then not, then here again. With noticeable changes in weather and a dip in water temperature, which now hovers in the low 80s near the Matanzas Inlet (compared to the upper 80s last week), the transition from summer to fall is in full swing.
I’ve been sticking strictly to artificial lures, and that choice probably explains the inconsistencies in my results. As we make this seasonal shift, the fish are adapting, and perhaps it’s time for me to consider diversifying my approach. Just because I’m not reeling in the quantities of reds I’d like (my primary target) doesn’t mean they aren’t biting.
With the seasonal transition and the abundance of finger mullet in the tidal creeks, I’ve found myself picking up more Trout and very decent Flounder while targeting redfish. Interestingly, I’m not alone in my discovery of Flounder back in the creeks. My son and wife took a canoe out on Thursday and managed to land a couple of nice ones as well.
However, the live bait anglers fishing the same areas are proving that if you’ve got the patience to “bait n’ wait,” you can catch plenty of nice fish. Capt. Mike May of XScape Fishing Charters passed me in a small creek as I was heading out. After I had covered the entire creek with artificials and only produced 6 undersized reds, he went in and put his clients on several good slot redfish using live shrimp. Other reports confirm that live bait in the tidal creeks is the way to go right now.
For those looking to target big bull reds or even the slot reds in the Matanzas Inlet itself, reports from those in the know suggest that it’s slowed down dramatically this past week compared to the week before.
On the beach, the pompano are showing up for their fall migration. Ghost shrimp, live sand fleas, or fresh dead shrimp on pompano rigs with Sputnik sinkers is the way to go. Some of the popular makers of those rigs right now include St. Augustine Sandman Float Rigs, BS Surf Fishing Rigs, and the classic Captain’s Choice Tackle “Pompano Rig.” By far, the best Sputnik sinker is made by The Sinker Guy out of Jacksonville and can be found online or in most local tackle shops.
In the Palm Coast canals, Tarpon, Snook, and Trout have been stacking up under the dock lights at night. Reports suggest that they’re a bit leader shy, so try lighter and longer fluorocarbon leaders and free-line various-sized shrimp (with hooks that fit the size of the shrimp) until you find that sweet spot they’re looking for.
I hope this report helps you tighten up on some fish this week, and I’ll be back next week with more updates from the ever-evolving world of fishing. Tight lines and happy angling!
YouTube channels to follow for local fishing entertainment and reports:
– St. Augustine Sandman: HERE
– Draggin Tailz Fishing: HERE
– Take a Bow with Capt. Adam Morley: HERE
Chris from Skinny Water Lures mentioned the bait fish are still plentiful on the flats with large schools of mullet. We found the fish seemed to turn off a little leading into the new moon phase. But the days after the new moon phase the fish turned the bite back on.
As the pre-spawn approaches you will notice the redfish will start gorging themselves on bait fish. Once the spawn starts the bite will slow down. Take advantage of this pre-spawn activity while the bite is hot.
We noticed this week that the redfish bite seemed to turn on a little more once the sun started poking over the horizon. The bite seemed a little sluggish early morning until the sun came up and started heating the water up. Once the sun started rising the topwater bite turned on.
We found multiple reds being caught back-to-back in the same areas. Focus multiple cast in the same area before moving.
Due to the super high tides, we found schools of redfish pushed back into the small creeks and grass flats. Target the mouths to these creeks with topwater early morning. Switch to a paddle tail mid day and work closer to the bottom. After midday we slowed things down and switched to the SWL creature. This creature style bait allows you to fineness fish the oyster bars and deep holes. As we jigged this bait off the bottom, we found most bites came on the downfall.
When the bite gets tough slow down and throw a fineness style bait. This will allow you to target closer to the bottom and allow your bait to stay in the strike zone longer. As the pre-spawn approaches you will notice the redfish will start gorging themselves on bait fish. Once the spawn starts the bite will slow down. Take advantage of this pre-spawn activity while the bite is hot.
Capt. Adam Morley