Capt. Gary Burch
The first part of September was a continuation of August and late summer. Water temperatures were still in the middle 80ís and the air temps reached the 90ís. Fishing remained very consistent in the Clearwater and Dunedin area and we were catching most of the inshore species available.
As the month progressed, the temperatures dropped off from a mild cool front that passed through the state. Late September the water temps were in the middle 70ís. This set us up for some fantastic fishing and sparked the appearance of mackerel.
In the middle of September, the mackerel finally showed up in a big way along the coast and in the bays. With a little bit of chumming, the fish will find their way to you. Once they show up, you can catch them on just about any bait or artificial lure made. Live white bait, shrimp, top water plugs, silver spoons and any color jig will work. You will know itís a mackerel because they strike hard and strip line quickly. They are a blast to catch.
Trout were present all summer and are getting bigger as the temperatures fall. Gator trout are our favorite late fall and winter fish to catch. As the water temperatures cool down, the white bait will disappear and shrimp will become the bait of choice. Dark plastics tails, bounced along the bottom is a great way to find old yellow mouth as well.
Redfish have been active in the Clearwater area. The problem has been that they show one week and move the next. Keeping up with their where abouts has been challenging. Once found, some big fish have been caught. We caught a few 30 inch fish and lots of smaller ones over the past month.
Snook, our other inshore favorite, were still hanging out at the beach and in the passes. When the wind picks up and dirties the water, they move off the beach, either to deeper water or to the passes and the bite shuts down for a few days. I did not target snook most of September for that very reason. As the water temperature cools down, they will migrate off the beach to the back waters, bays and spoil islands.
Dan and Ron came out and wanted to catch anything that would pull back. The first fish was a nice large mackerel that striped out 50 yards of line in seconds. Dan did a great job holding on and then boated the fish. Ron joined in with a big blue fish. Blue fish and mackerel will commonly hang out together and tear up bait pods in the bays. They also lit up the trout with each catching a dozen and several 18 inch fish. A couple redfish where also caught on live shrimp under a float.
This charter was typical of the trips I had in September. Trout, redfish, mackerel, sharks and lady fish, all were feeding mainly on white baits and shrimp. As long as the white bait remains in the bays and passes, look for all of the inshore fish to be feeding.
As the water cools down in October, I will be looking for the redfish to be schooling up in the shallows of Clearwater and Dunedin bays. Once found, maybe they will hang out awhile so I can get some great catch and release photos.
Itís time to do some fall fishing. Weather conditions are fantastic.