Fall’s shorter days and cooler temperatures mark the arrival of improved fishing. As salt marsh levels begin dropping, the snook move out of the shadows and begin feeding along the banks. They’re joined in the shallows by hungry wading birds, which gives fishermen a chance to view vast flocks of herons and spoonbills competing with submerged predators for a baitfish meal. Watching shoreline pyrotechnics against a backdrop of blue and pink creates an indelible impression. Although some days may be better for it than others, good snook fishing, along with the opportunity to view plenty of wildlife while casting, remains consistent.
Despite the frenetic activity, fly selection is important. Although most creeks are overflowing with schools of tiny “rain minnows,” I encourage anglers to use larger-than-life attractor patterns. I believe these provoke stronger strikes which in turn, result in more fish actually landed. Incidentally, double-digit catches are a regular Fall occurrence.
In addition to the snook, small tarpon usually make a late-season appearance. These feisty three to fifteen-pound juveniles gorge on the same small forage as the snook but in slightly different venues, anglers armed with tiny streamers and ultralight rods can rack up impressive scores.
Further inland, Butterfly peacocks continue to feed heavily in preparation for winter. Right now, the weather’s getting cooler but whenever the sun shines and water temperatures hover in the mid-seventies, the bite continues. Anglers should be aware that now just like in springtime, large individual or paired peacocks show up in area canals. On September 9 of last year, an angler caught the all-tackle record in nearby Weston.
For the most part, grass carp fishing is finished until April. However, at the time of this entry, a few trees continue to shed berries and attract fish. Otto Lanz, DVM, from Virginia Tech is an expert at out-foxing these giants and as you can see from the photo, he has a way with large animals.
The rainy season’s finally over but the water’s still high. While waiting in-between trips for Glades levels to drop, I plan to paint-up a few bass bugs and tie a couple dozen flies for St. John’s shad.