Week of October 17: It’s snook season madness!
Today’s forecast calls for a high of 83 degrees, mostly cloudy skies with a 45 percent chance of thunderstorms in the late afternoon, SSE winds at 9 mph and 2 to 3-foot seas.
Good morning, my fishing brothers and sisters! Hope everyone had a great weekend, it sure was nice out! To begin, I would like to post a reminder for everyone that fishing on the North jetty is a privilege, not a right, and can be taken away at any time. The jetty was built for safe passage for boaters entering and exiting the inlet, and fishing on it is a gift to us all. We are having a big problem with folks leaving trash, dead fish and discarded fishing line at the jetty. I have received many complaints about it, and so has the inlet management team. Please, we ask you all to help out in keeping the jetty clean. Toss your trash in one of the trash cans or take it home with you. If you see something, pick it up and throw it away. If you see anyone throwing trash on the deck, say something or call us at the ranger station at 321-984-4852. If we all do our part, hopefully they won't have to close the jetty down for maintenance and cleaning in the middle of the fishing season. Now for the report:
North jetty: Snook fishing has been outstanding at the North jetty, but snook are being caught throughout the entire inlet. All last week the snook on the North jetty - and on both tides - have been biting so well on live shrimp that almost everyone fishing live shrimp was catching them. There were small and oversize snook, but mostly there were a vast number of keeper snook taken home all last week. The crowd was what I call ‘out of control,’ but that is part of the game when the snook are playing well. Also being caught were a few nice redfish, which are only catch-and-release now. Mullet were not in the numbers we witnessed immediately after the hurricane; they have nearly disappeared. Redfish have been in the 15 to 20-pound range. Also, anglers are catching Spanish mackerel on live greenies. I also saw folks catching a few pompano on the jetty - high tide ocean side on small ‘goofy jigs.’ The fish were around 14 to 16 inches, nice fish. I saw one lucky snook angler catch a nice permit, about 20 inches. And for variety, there were small mutton snapper caught, too small to keep, and one five-pound black drum I saw on Saturday, caught on live shrimp. Also, I saw sheepshead swimming around the inside pilings on the inlet side at the tip. As the water cools down, they will be showing up to come in the inlet to spawn, along with the black drum. Jack crevalle and blue runners are also keeping things interesting on the jetty.
South jetty: Here, the action has been good as well for snook and redfish, but not like the North jetty. There are plenty of fish, but many small fish to weed through to get a keeper. They are biting any live bait you throw at them - even small swim baits and jigs will do the trick. Jack crevalles, blue runners, black margates, catfish and stingrays round out the action here. I haven't heard about any flounder yet, but when the water cleans up a bit more, expect them to show up with the cooler water temperatures.
Catwalks, both sides: The north catwalk remains closed by the Department of Transportation (DOT) due to an inspection for structural damage. The south catwalk has been producing good numbers of snook at night on both tides. Baits of choice have been live bait, flair jigs and 5 to 6- inch swim baits such as the NLBN. The daytime bite has dropped off due to the absence of the finger mullet.
T-Dock area: Fishing here has slowed due to the lack of finger mullet, but there are fish around. Nighttime buck-tailers are getting plenty of nice snook and redfish on the outgoing tide. Some fish are being caught around the shorelines as well in the daytime on live pinfish and pigfish. You just need to find a spot and fish it and see what happens as snook are on the prowl looking for food.
Surf, both sides: The south surf remains very dirty and weedy, so nothing to report. But when it does clean up, expect to see pompano, since the water temps are inching closer to what they prefer. As noted above, some have already been caught on the north jetty. North surf: The water has been much cleaner, but still not what it should be. If you can catch the rising or falling high tide and find bait in the surf, possibilities of snook, redfish and tarpon could be possible.
Fall is here and so is the fishing It only gets better from here on out. Get out, get your gear and bait and catch some fish! And above all, have fun. — Snookman.