Capt. Pete Rapps
September will be the last full month of summer heat and rainy afternoons here in the 10,000 Islands. Day time air temperatures will average around 91; water temps will hover around 86. Typical to our summer months, September heats up so much by mid day, that the bite will usually drop off by lunch time. We will still get early day storms which will cool things off a little and produce a late afternoon/early evening bite.
Snook season opens up on September 1. This will be the first time since the freeze of 2010 that anglers with a snook stamp on their fishing license will be able to keep one snook between 28” and 33”. Many areas around the state are about back to full strength on snook populations, however, some areas of the 10,000 Islands got hit so hard with dead loss in the freeze of 2010, that I personally feel they have not populated back to full strength. Because of this, I am an advocate of practicing catch and release fishing for snook to assure our children and their children will always be able to enjoy catching these fantastic game fish the same as we have in years past.
The snook are feeding ona good moving out-going tide around the outside barrier islands. Try those live baits for your best numbers. I like pilchards, thread herring, and pinfish. Try them under a cork or just natural for best results. Artificials are always a productive and fun way to catch snook, too. I really like to use DOA Terror Eyz, 3” Berkley Gulp Shrimp, Buck tail jigs, and a nice flashy top water plug will get the job done too.
The Trout are around the shallow grass flats in decent numbers. Hit your favorite spots the last hour or two of the incoming tide. Most of your bites will happen in the 3’-5’ depth range. They will hit artificial bait just as well, if not better than some live baits. I use 3” Berkley Gulp Shrimp, DOA deadly combos and of course live shrimp under a good popping cork. Trout are a mild and delicious fish to eat. You can keep four trout per licensed anger between 15” and 20”, however one of these four may be over 20”.
Fish for Redfish on an incoming tide on the outside oyster bars with live Shrimp, Pilchards or Thread Herring under a popping cork. Of course many artificials are equally as good such as agold spoon, gulp shrimp, or a buck tail jig. Redfish are fantastic fish to eat. You can keep one Redfish per licensed angler between 18” and 27”.
Tarpon are still around, although not in as many numbers as early summer. The big gals will be out feeding on the outside bays and flats early in the morning and again late in the afternoon. In our area, they are naturally looking for ladyfish, thread herring, and pilchards. My choice is to live line one of these delicacies out to them on a nice stout spinning rod. If you have opportunity to sight fish for them, try a large soft plastic bait like a DOA Swimmin’ Mullet.
If you are fishing the 10,000 Islands out of Everglades City or Chokoloskee, be sure to stop into Everglades Bait and Tackle at 102 Buckner Ave (next to the grocery store) and ask Brandon and Alana for an update on what the fish are currently feeding on. They only stock what works locally! If you are looking for instruction or want to learn our techniques, let’s get you out on a charter and our captains and myself will be happy to give you all the guidance you need to have a successful day out on the water.