Ready for fall fishing: The gulf water temperature is starting to drop with the recent rain, and daylight time is getting shorter. This is getting game fish more active on the flats. Large gator trout are starting to show up on the deeper grass flats. They have been in 6 to 8 feet of water with patchy grass and sand holes. The best flats have been just off Anclote Key, Three Rooker Bar and the North Sand Bar. Nice trout also has been in 8 feet of water from Hudson to Bayport. When fishing in these areas, you might catch some small sharks, bluefish, ladyfish, and Spanish mackerel. Most of the action has been on artificial baits such as 1/4-ounce jig heads with a 3-inch plastic tail and most hard plastic cranking lures.
Snook: Snook are also starting to show up in their early fall hangouts: mouths of creeks, rivers, and deep-water canals. Plenty of snook are still out along the beaches and in the passes, such as Clearwater Pass, Hurricane Pass and the north end of Anclote Key. The best baits have been large live shad, whitebait and threadfins. When it comes to catching snook, timing is everything. You need to work the tides. I like to fish two hours before and after the tide change. Sometimes it's the best bite of the day.
Mike Manning runs Action Fishing Adventures out of Tarpon Springs. Call him toll-free at 1-800-644-5940.