Tag Archives: bait

Englewood Redfish
Englewood Redfish

For most of our anglers fishing fix we’ve been using whitebait and shrimp for plenty of trout and other inshore species. With these darker waters we’ve had over the past few months it can be difficult for the fish to visually locate food at distances more than a foot or so. That’s where the noise of the popping cork comes into play. Not only do fish feed by sight but also by smell, vibrations and more importantly… sounds of other feeding fish. With a popping cork, you provide almost all of the sense stimuli they normally use to feed. One of the most common mistakes I see on a regular basis with these noisy fish magnets is folks not leaving the bait in the same general area. How this is supposed to work is simple…Make a cast and with minimal movement to the bait, pop the cork with enough force to actually make a “pop” but not pull the bait off the hook. It should sound like a fish strike if you’ve done it correctly. Also this needs to be done without moving the whole rig more than a few inches from where you first made the original entry. Remember, you’re trying to call the fish to your bait and if you’re moving it 5 ft every time you pop that cork… well, you have defeated the purpose of the noise attractant. As far as rigging, I like to make my leaders (fluorocarbon) length close to but not on the bottom or in the grass. You want your bait to be easily seen when the noise draws them in for a closer investigation, not tangled up or able to hide in the weeds. Trying to fish mid column would be a more accurate description. Finish those popper corks with a split shot weight in the middle of the leader, a 4/0 to 6/0 circle hook and a live bait. Look for current rips at creek mouths, pot holes, grass flats and channels along mangroves.

For those early morning risers… you’re gonna do great throwing top water baits like the Heddon spooks, the One knocker spook and the spook jr in the bone color. You may also want to grab some live shrimp at your local bait shops like Gasparilla Marina or the Dearborn corner market. Stop by and see my good friend Taylor and his lovely wife Cindy and tell them Capt Jesse sent ya. They’ve got “bait till late.”

For the rest of our inshore news… still getting reports of quality redfish caught in places like the west wall and on up into Lemon and Sarasota Bay. Fish around structure like docks and up around the mangroves. Redfish will frequent our flats, bays and creek mouths in their quest for food. Look for them to be tailing in pods exceeding 30 fish. If you are finding them finicky… as they sometimes can be, a large live shrimp or chunked ladyfish still remain favorite “go to” baits. You might try Mirro-lure’s scented 3-3/4″ lil’ john soft plastic twitch bait, as it’s been the go to bait as we’ve fished these dark waters… rigged with 1/8th oz jig heads and the wind howling, still we were able to make very respectable casts. You can really sling that sucker without fear of it sliding off the jig head. Pending on the water clarity you’re fishing, colors like new penny, root beer and pink silver seem to be the ticket.

Don’t forget to take a peek out on the beaches. Bonita, Spanish mackerel, and king mackerel are migrating in big numbers and offer a great opportunity to bend a rod. Nearshore is the easiest way to find fish right now…just look for the birds. We’re still seeing tons of birds working mixed bags of big ol’ spanish and king mackerel, jacks and bonito from just outside of the passes… on out to about 3 miles. Remember to keep a stout outfit rigged and “at the ready” …you never know when that bruiser cobia will stop by to see what all the commotion is about. I’ll keep one of my Penn Spinfisher V 6500 on stand-by with a 7/0 circle hook with 50 lb leader just for this reason. More times than not they will absolutely knock the snot out of a piece of cut bait or a jig tipped with a hunk of squid.

If you’re ready to get out and see how we do it you can call us at 941-698-0323. You can also find Capt Kelly and I on Facebook, Instagram or our web page www.FloridaInshoreXtream.com. Well folks, you know the deal…gotta get on out and get my FIX on! So … tight lines and y’all stay safe!!

Capt. Jesse McDowall
Florida Inshore Xtream Charter services
941-698-0323
jesse@fixcharters.com

Fall is my favorite time of year when it comes to fishing season. Rivaled only by tarpon season or spring time… ah the heck with it… I love fishing all year round here in SW Florida. These past few weeks have been amazing as far as the fishing goes. Something else can be said for the weather for sure! The early morning and later part of the afternoon topwater action has been unreal. I’ve been throwing Heddon’s spook jr and the 4.5” spook XT’s and I’ll tell ya they are by far the toughest topwater baits you’ll have the pleasure of throwing. If fishing top water hasn’t been on your fishing, well I’ll tell ya you are missing out my friend. The past few days have been absolutely ridiculous as far as the topwater action is concerned. When we have conditions like this darker water the fish have more difficulty visually finding food. Therefore they rely more heavily on feel and sound. That’s where the noisy splashing and rattling baits are king of my bait choice. Getting out for that early morning bite is awesome! If you’re lucky enough to happen upon one of the big schools of redfish that are plowing through our waterways…  oh boy!! If you’re watching and know what you’re looking at… well they are kind of unmistakable when you happen upon a school of reds. Now for this kind of fishing … placement is everything… what I like to do is have a number of rods at the ready…. One or two with live or cut bait that I have some range with and one with topwater. They move pretty quickly so try to anticipate the direction they are headed. I like to pitch that heavy cut or live bait out first and let it soak to give me a little time to get a few lines out as the school approaches that bait. Once you hook one it will spook the rest of the herd…. So that’s why timing is the key if you wanna have multiple fish hook up.

Gag and red grouper on the near shore reefs are still around but dirty water can hamper them. You might need to push out or look for cleaner water to hook up with keeper size fish.  Something that’s been working quite well for me lately as I’ve been checking new areas is using a 3-6 oz brightly colored pink and white Bomber cobia jigs. I’ll cut a small 3-4 inch triangle of cut bait (cigar minnow or squid), drop it down and drift over the area you’ve marked as a potential hot spot. Something else you may want look for on your machine is not only that “live bottom” but the bait and other smaller fish as well. Another thing I’ve had to do is alter the gain on my sounder. There have been so many jellyfish and thermocline layers around I’ve been picking them up as smaller bait schools. So turn that auto setting off and manually set it to filter out those jellies…. especially if you have an older machine. But, the bite is hot out there and if you’re thinking of splashing the dive gear…. 12-14 miles is where you’ll find the color change and cleaner water.

If you’re looking for some fast paced action… well you’re gonna enjoy the bite that’s happening right now. First, head out offshore a few miles and look for the schools of bait that are just outside and easily accessible. Don’t worry, you’ll know where they are because the birds are looking for them as well.  I’ve been throwing small spoons, stick baits and silver minnow’s and just about anything that has a hook on it around those pods and all kinds of things are crushing in those schools…. bonito, spanish mackerel, kings, sharks everything. You can’t miss them…just look for the birds and all the fish crashing bait.

That’s gonna do it for now. So put out the gone fishin’ sign, stock up on tackle, load up that livewell and head on out to your favorite fishing hole… or better yet get out and find some new ones and catch’em up. Just remember to leave a few to make replacements for tomorrow.

Captain Jesse McDowall
941-698-0323
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