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