Fall Flamingo exploring, 7 October
Capt. Bob LeMay
October 7, 2019
Flamingo - Saltwater Fishing Report
Made a quick run down to Flamingo yesterday to do a bit of exploring and shaking out my new motor after some small problems we'd found... The good news is that my motor is 100 % now (you don't go into the backcountry with motor troubles....). Did a round trip of 61 miles on my gps trip log ranging across to the west coast - then to the north a bit... The big push of baitfish is still going strong out along the coast (and should continue until at least early November). I didn't look for any tarpon... Instead I just looked for a sampling here and there while doing a bit of exploring on my own. Caught and released a few snook on lures - here's a pic of my best one, measured exactly 31 inches then a quick photo and released in good shape....
I always try to add the gear in the photo for some perspective - The rod shown is brand new - and it's always a treat to use a rod that you made yourself. The blank is by PacBay and it's 7', rated for l8 to 17lb line. I keep a pair of these on my skiff for my anglers. They're mated to Daiwa BG 3500 reels with 20lb braid (if it was mono, we'd always use 10lb mono for rods in this category..). The lure is a 4" Gulp mullet tail on a 1/4oz leadhead in fl. pink (something else I make for my customers...). My standard leader for this size rod is usually 40lb fluoro - a bit heavy for most but in the 'glades we frequently get hooked up with critters that are entirely too big, period... A bit heavier leader doesn't seem to put off the fish at all.
Moving along I found both reds (two in slot size - the biggest at 21" - just right for a "dinner red" so it got invited home), speckled trout - not many around now but a river mouth did give up a good sized one - nearly 20" ... Remember that the FWC has just come up with new trout regs and a 20" trout will be a required release fish once the rule takes effect...
Lastly, river mouths also held quite a few small goliath grouper (baby jewfish for all you old timers...). As usual they're the baddest fish in the 'glades and even a tiny one will attack any lure or bait that comes near... All of them were right on the bottom as usual facing into the current and biting 1/4 or 3/8oz lead heads - with Mr. Wiffle tails... Here's a pic of the first one..
This little guy absolutely inhaled a leadhead with a five inch tail... I was finding them by simply pitching the leadhead across the current, allowing it to sink, then crawling it slowly as it swung out and down past places where they were holding... Very hungry aggressive little guys... Hard to believe looking at a little one that they can get to almost 800lbs in size... Any time I want my anglers hooked up to a bigger one we switch from lures to live or cut bait - and the size we encounter gets bigger as we move off shore.. In the rivers we seldom encounter one over 100 lbs (our usual is 20 to 50lbs) - but who knows? We certainly encounter more than a few we can't stop.... Out at the boundary markers we've caught and released them up to about 150 - and on wrecks just a few miles farther out I've seen them in the 300 to 400lb range. No, I've never carried the kind of gear you need for those guys... Mostly we try to avoid them since one will eat a 15lb permit - like it was a cookie - in one bite... not to mention what one will do to a big snook...
This is a great time to be on the water with bait everywhere and big fish taking advantage.... Each week will have slightly cooler water temperatures - and our first cold night is usually about one week before Halloween - but it's all weather dependent. That first cold night will have the big tarpon scooting out offshore - and they won't come back until water temps come back up (we usually get a brief flurry of big tarpon back inside the last two weeks before Christmas - but only if it's mild...). As for every other specie, this is the time for them to start easing back inside a bit. That inward migration will go on for several months as each cold front drops water temps along the coast... Halloween also marks the beginning of the dry season so pretty soon we'll see a dramatic drop in mosquitoes and other biters... All in all this is one of my favorite times each year.
Be a hero - take a kid fishing!
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