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Week of September 26: The fall mullet run is on!

May contain: nature, water, outdoors, sea, ocean, and shoreline
Even if you aren't an angler, the fall mullet run is one of nature's more remarkable spectacles.

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Today’s forecast calls for partly cloudy skies becoming thunderstorms, a high of 83 degrees, ENE winds becoming ESE winds of 10 mph, and 2 to 3-foot seas. The rest of the week will be  - big surprise - filled with thuderstorms, thanks to Hurricane Ian's approach. 

Our fishing guide, “Snookman” Wayne Landry, serves up this week’s report, noting that this report includes the last note for the "offshore" area until spring. As he explains, “ This time of the year getting out there is largely dependent on the weather and seas - and it's usually not too nice - and usually not much going on except for the sailfish and kings.” 

The report: “It has been rough and windy most of last week and through the weekend, but it has brought back the finger mullet run, and along with it, all the hungry predator fish that love to chomp on them! The entire north side was abuzz with finger mullet over the weekend, with lots of fish being caught. The entire inlet was busy, as I saw lots of fish in the T-dock area and south jetty. Fall is here.

North jetty: It has been insane with the finger mullet run. When I was down last Thursday through Sunday, mullet were everywhere: up and down the beach and along the jetty and out at least 100 yards or so. The snook were cartwheeling in them; and tarpon, jacks and sharks were blasting them. Most of the action was on the falling high tide as the water on the beach was dropping, and on the ocean side of the jetty and at the tip on the outgoing tide. Live mullet was the bait of choice. Most of the snook were way too big to keep, but I did see plenty of keepers as well. Redfish were there being caught too, but they were too large to keep. Redfish, currently, are catch-and-release. Small mangrove snapper are still being caught on dead and live greenies in the rocks and along the pilings on both tides. Most are between 11 and 12 inches. A couple of nice cubera snappers were caught on live mullet at the tip of the jetty. One lucky angler caught a 20-inch mutton snapper on cut bait Saturday when I was there. There are still greenies around and Spanish mackerel are biting. 

 South jetty: The finger mullet are drawing smaller snook and redfish all along the jetty and shoreline on the incoming tide. There have been some nice keeper snook caught, as well, on live baits of any kind, and 4 to 5-inch swim baits. During the outgoing tide, at the tip in the eddy, snook are being caught as well, along with jack crevalles, blue runners and a few redfish. 

Catwalks: Fishing has slowed down quite a bit except for the nighttime bite for snook on both tides. Use flair jigs and swim baits.

Surf area, both sides It has been pretty rough for normal surf fishing, but with the higher water and all the mullet running up and down the beach, snook fishing has been fairly good if you catch the falling high tide. Also in the mix are tarpon ranging from 60 to more than 100 pounds, along with several species of sharks. Live mullet cast netted in the surf along with larger swim baits is the ticket to get hooked up.

T-Dock area: You’ll find lots of finger mullet. The greenies are attracting Spanish mackerel and jack crevalles for those using live bait and small jigs and spoons. The snook bite is a night affair. Use flair jigs and swim baits. Also, there are still ‘keeper’ mangrove snapper being caught on live and dead cut greenies around the dock pilings.

Offshore: Offshore fishing has been largely blown out for the past few days. This time of year, weather and seas will dictate whether or not you can get out there safely. Before it got sloppy, I have reports from my offshore trio that there were plenty of cobia to be had on the inshore reefs and ledges. They went out with a Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation (FWC) staffer to tag and installing radio transponders in them for tracking purposes. Most of the fish they caught were 35 to 40-inch fish. Live pilchards, jigs and cut bait worked well to catch them. Find them in 70 to 90 ft of water. Kingfish are being caught in 60 to 90- foot depths,  with larger fish at 180 feet. Slow trolling live mullet and pogies are enticing a bite from the ones closer inshore, whereas trolled feathers naked or with strips will get the bite farther out. With the new moon coming, the snapper bite should be picking up. A mixed bag of snappers has been being caught on cut baits, sardines, grunt plugs and live pilchards. Sixty-five to 80 feet seems to be the area they are at. The mangroves are averaging 2 to 4 pounds, and the muttons 4 to 8 pounds. Sailfish should be showing up this time of the year, so keep your eyes out for birds circling around and fish up on the surface just cruising or feeding. Also, for those who want to venture out there, I received a report of blackfin tuna being caught in 300 to 350 feet of water outside of where all the sharks are. Small feathers, trolled baits, ballyhoo will get a bite if you find them. The fish are averaging between 20 to 30 pounds. 

I hope everyone is able to get out and enjoy the beach and the fishing before Hurricane Ian visits. – Snookman”