Cooler weather will bring better fishing

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By Capt. Brylee

Special to the Pioneer

September has begun to do its job in cooling the coastal waters. 

Whereas a few weeks ago the temperatures were in the mid 80s, they have begun to fall. 

This week water temperatures have ranged from 81-83 degrees. Although this is a change of just a few degrees, it is often all the fish need to start feeding more. 

As fall sets in the temperatures are sure to only cool more and more quickly. This will open far more off-shore opportunities for amberjack, red snapper, and grouper.

 Capt. John Blouse with Hooked Up Charters out of Cedar Key says the ideal water temperatures that really turn the fish on is low to mid 70s. 

While it is difficult to pinpoint the weather, usually the Gulf waters will reach these ideal temperatures around the second or third week in October and will last at this temp for a short time before the waters become cooler than seventy forcing the fish back to deeper and or warmer waters.

Reports from Cedar Key state they are having better success off-shore. The black sea bass are being caught in waters of 25-30 feet while grouper have been located at 28-45 feet. 

The amberjack have begun hitting well and a lot being caught. Hooked Up Charters reported catching a lot of large amberjack. 

As in most instances the off-shore fish are being found around old wrecks and other such structure. 

Find the structure and you’ll more than likely find the fish and as the waters continue to cool they will become more and more frisky. In-shore fishing has also done well. 

Redfish, trout and even spanish mackerel are still being caught. A few of the more productive areas have been south of Snake Key between Deadmans Channel and Corrigans Reef. 

Fish in depths of around four to five feet and look for the grassy flats with changing structure on the bottom for trout and look for the reds around the many oyster bars found in these areas.

Reports remain consistent on both the Atlantic and Gulf coast of the bait fish being very heavy right now. For those of you who cast net for your bait, this will be a great time. 

From pinfish to mullet; they are thick.While scalloping season just closed, there have been reports of many limiting out on scallops in the past few weeks in the Cedar Key area. This being the result of the waters clearing after the turmoil of Isaac. Note scallop season ended Sept. 24.

With the bait fish being as prevalent as they are, this week’s feature catch is more of a style catching fish rather than a specific catch. 

This will prove challenging and a lot of fun for those looking to catch a lot of fish. 

We are talking about hook fishing for mullet. I have found that this is a long known way to catch mullet for the old timers, but relatively new to me. 

The secret is the right hook rig and chum. That’s right I said chum. Using chicken laying mash, or any high protein substance such as even dog food,  add enough water to the mash to make it doughy. 

Take balls of your mash and throw it into the water as to let the tide drift it through the schools of mullet. 

Then throw out a few handfuls of plain oatmeal in the same manner.

Rig your pole, which can be anything from a fiberglass rod to a cane pole with your line holding from one to four or five small gold hooks attached to a swivel and measuring different lengths. This is much like a Sabiki rig. 

Take a white plastic worm and cut it into thin pieces and attach them to your hook. While the mullet are feeding on the mash and oatmeal they will hit your rig as they travel through the chum. Be sure you’re ready to set your hook and hold on because often times you will get more than one mullet at a time on your line. There is no size limit on mullet and the bag limits are 50 per harvester. 

From Sept. 1 – Jan. 31 there is a per vessel limit of 50 while from Feb. 1 – Aug. 31 the per vessel limit is 100.

 Please obey all local and state laws and remember to catch and release.