Chances for inshore slam on the rise

Redfish are schooling as part of their fall migration and spawning patterns.

In our southern range, the flats behind the barrier islands are classic spots for reds. The fish are easily spotted pushing water on the edges of the flats at low tide. These fish are often "nervous" in the ultraskinny water, so what appears to be hundreds of fish in a school may only yield a couple of fish even with a stealth approach. The fish tend to be less wary with higher water. My favorite approach has always been to ambush the fish as they travel across points on the change of the tide.

On the shallow flats to the north, my pattern is the opposite. Here the water is very shallow and very clear. I prefer to fish the last third of the flood tide, favoring creek mouths and points. The bottom consistency is made up of hard sand, limestone flat rock, and oyster bars.

Snook are scattered as they return from their spawning ritual in the gulf. For now, we have caught a few on the first oyster bars outside of creek mouths and in the potholes adjacent to oyster bars and deeper water sloughs. As we move through October the fish will stage together in areas just outside their winter haunts. The fish will feed well in attempt to restore body fat lost during the rigorous activity of spawning.

Spanish mackerel, bluefish, jacks, small sharks, cobia, ladyfish, and "subkeeper" grouper are all over the deeper grass flats and shallow rock piles. Any of these species are a possibility when pulling alongside the bait schools just offshore. Check deep water "salt n' pepper" grass flats, springs, troughs or low relief rock piles. I start with floating a frozen chum block, then "sweeten" the drip by chumming with live bait.

The most reliable action with tarpon has been in the rivers and residential canals. These fish are juveniles, which run from 8 to 40 pounds. In the river, we occasionally hook fish of more than 80 pounds.

There is no better time for a shot at a flats fishing "grand slam." Snook, redfish, and trout are readily caught — often on the same spots. A little extra effort may produce the fourth "grand slam" prong, the tarpon. On days when it is "not happening," you are waiting on the tide, or you just want to have some nonstop fun, the nearshore migratory bait run is just a 10-minute run away.

Chances for inshore slam on the rise 09/18/08 [Last modified: Thursday, September 18, 2008 8:50pm]

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