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Week of August 29: The water is heating up, and so is the fishing

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The snapper bite is on!


Today’s forecast calls for a high of 85 degrees, SSE winds at 11 mph, thunderstorms and one to two-foot seas. The remainder of the week will also likely bring afternoon thunderstorms daily.

“Snookman” Wayne Landry offers a detailed fishing report this week: “Good morning, all you fishing guys and gals! To start off our report today, I need to touch base on a north jetty fishing rule that is being abused almost to the point that it is out of control: Cast netting! Over the past months since the baitfish have been here, people have been cast netting small baitfish to use and taking what they want and leaving the rest to die on the deck and stink it up, not to mention make it look like a war zone! Park management has seen this, and I have also shared pictures with the park team. This could lead to having cast netting prohibited which leads me having to say something about it for them. Rule #4 on the big white sign leading to the north jetty that states that  this is one of the few jetties that still allows cast netting, so please DO NOT abuse this privilege, and states that ALL cast netted marine life not wanted needs to be returned to the water as quickly as possible. Please help us protect out marine resources as they won't last forever. If you see someone abusing it, say something, or report it to a ranger, or the entry booth, 321-984-4852, and help keep our jetty clean, and the baitfish alive. Thank you all. Now onto the fishing. 

Now, the fishing report: Fishing in the entire inlet has picked up as more bait has moved into the area, and that draws fish wanting to dine on them. The water has also warmed up and stayed clean for the most part. As snook season approaches on Thursday September 1, expect crowds, so practice patience and respect for others and our fisheries so that everyone can have a good and safe time fishing. Remember, the bag limit is one fish per person per day, and the slot limit is 28 inches minimum total length with the tail pinched, and 32 inches maximum total length with the tail pinched. 

North Jetty: Here the hot topic has been the mangrove and cubera snapper bite. Both of these species are being caught on live and cut baits fished at the tip of the jetty on the outgoing tides, and between the pilings and the rock shoreline on the inside on the incoming tide. Most of the mangroves I saw and heard about last week were in the 12 to 16-inch range, with most being caught on cut greenies or live small mojarras. I saw a lot of my friends catching their limits every day. The cubera snappers being caught have been on live baits and cut mojarra halves fished tight against the rocks at the tip on outgoing tide - also a few were caught from boats fishing snook with live croakers. The cuberas were averaging about 25 to 30 inches, nice fish! Several redfish were caught as well last week on live mojarras and mullet, but they were all too big to keep. Remember that as of September 1, you cannot keep redfish. They will be "catch and release only” until further notice from FWC. The snook bite has slowed a bit as these fish know what is producing the open season - they go to school. There has been a fairly good bite at night on the outgoing tide for those tossing flair jigs and large swim baits. The daytime live bait bite is a little slow due to the clear water and the fact that monster goliath groupers are harassing them again, as always. You can watch them from the jetty as the water is so clear. You might have to work at it as they are a bit leery. Live mojarras, croakers, mullet, shrimp, pins and pigs will work to get a bite. This time of the year the pinfish and pigfish should start coming out of the river through the inlet and the snook will start feeding on them as they come down off their spawning mode. 

South jetty: Here, the fishing is slow as the water has dirtied back up again and more seaweed has shown back up as well, especially on the outgoing tide. Snook and redfish are possible on the incoming tide all along the jetty rocks with live mojarras and pigfish being good baits. Large jack crevalles are around as well and will take a bait, so you may see some of them too. Outgoing tide fishing is mostly at the tip of the jetty, with small blue runners, jack crevalles and black margates being the main catch. Snook are possible on the northeast corner in the hole on mojarras. Also, there are many pesky catfish around due to the dirty water. 

Catwalks, both sides: The south side catwalk outgoing tide is a waste due to the very weedy conditions and dirty water; incoming has been producing mangrove snappers around the abutments and fenders on live and dead greenies, and small live mojarras. North catwalk has been better as the water is cleaner and deeper and is producing mangrove snappers, black margates and a couple mutton snappers I saw Saturday but were too small to keep. They have to be 18 inches overall. 

Surf area, both sides: The south side has been a little dirty and weedy close to the jetty, but if you move south just a 100 yards or so, it cleans up some. During this time of year, there are baitfish coming out of the inlet, and the mullet start running. You can expect to catch snook, redfish, sharks and possibly hook a tarpon for fun. Any live bait will work for these species. The regular species being caught on this side should be mangrove snapper, croakers, whiting and sand perch which all run up and down the beach looking for food. Also, it is a good area for nurse sharks, blacktips and spinners, especially when the bait pods show up, and they will.

The North side water is clean and more mullet are starting to come down the beach, which leads to a fishing bonanza this time of year. My beach-fishing friends tell me that they have been walking the beach early in the mornings and late in the evenings on the rising tides and have been catching lots of nice snook, redfish, and jumping 100-pound-plus tarpon. This is usually the time of the year when the fishing on the beach improves with the start of the fall mullet run. Last year, it was the best I have seen for quite a few years, and am hoping it does well again. In that mix of fish, you’ll start seeing blacktip and spinner sharks as well - they too will be chasing the mullet schools, and the large jack crevalles will be around too. 

Offshore: Fishing has picked up a bit last week from what it had been, as the water has started to warm up some. You still have to work a bit, but fish are being caught. The bad part is that the sharks, I have been told, are everywhere. All sorts of different species, so if what you are after isn't biting, there is always sharks. Kingfish, there have been many caught inshore, out from the beaches around the glass minnow and pogy pods that are around. Live baits tossed at the schools or slow trolled will get the bite. I received a report of some being caught out in 110 to 120 feet of water on trolled feathers, with or without strips on them, and drone spoons on a down rigger. Most fish are averaging 10 to 20 pounds, with some upwards of 30 pounds. Also, south of the inlet in 80 to 120 feet of water, the mangrove and mutton snapper bite has picked up over the wrecks and ledges. Live pilchards, cut bait, cut grunt plugs are the baits of choice. The mangroves are averaging 3 to 5 pounds, and the muttons 5 to 10 pounds. Another species on the inshore side is the tarpon. I have reports of them being all along the beaches of our area chasing the bait pods along the coast now. Any live bait, plug or swim bait tossed at them should produce a bite. These fish are averaging 75 to 100 pounds, with a few bigger in the mix. 

It is going to be a bit of a rainy week to start in the afternoons, but with nice temperatures and a nice breeze off the ocean to keep it down a bit. Whether you are fishing or beaching, bring your shade, sunscreen and drinks and chairs and enjoy the Florida outdoors! Stay well, everyone, and have a great week.”