By: Randy Morrow
Anyone who has spent time fishing in the Florida Keys soon realizes this area is an outstanding fishery. Two of the primary reasons are the incredible diversity of species and the many methods of fishing practiced here. From catching grunts off a dock to trolling the Gulfstream for blue marlin, the Keys offer myriad choices for an angler. Of course, my favorite method of piscatorial pursuit is from a kayak in shallow water. This past summer has been hotter than normal, and the hot water temporarily hurt the flats fishing. But fall is upon us so let’s take a look at what options are available to a Keys kayak angler between now and the end of the year. Keep in mind that fish don’t read calendars! Water temps and tides are the main factors affecting fishing. But these general guidelines will get you pretty close.
This month, the first thing you’ll notice while kayak fishing these months is how few people are on the water.
You’ll have your favorite spots to yourself, and fishing for the big three flats species is usually very good. It’s a great time to try for a grand slam. Some of the biggest bonefish and permit of the year show during this period. One recent September I landed two permit in the same week that were 35” fork length and saw permit in the 40 pound class! Another year at this time, two friends and I spent 3 solid hours in the morning throwing flies at tailing bonefish! Bottom and bridge fishing gets much better than summertime as the bigger mangrove snapper move back to shallow water and the water temps start to drop a bit. The weather starts to cool a little and fishing all day becomes productive and comfortable again.
The next couple of months, the big variable for a kayak angler during these months will be the frequency and severity of the cold fronts that start to push in from the north. As to fishing, the main thing to keep an eye on is the water temps. If you can find water in the high 70s to low 80s, the “big three” (bonefish, tarpon, and permit) should still be cooperative, especially after the front passes and the weather stabilizes for a few days. But as the water temps continue to cool these sport fish will thin out somewhat, and it’s time to change tactics. Snapper fishing typically picks up nicely. Grouper on the patches and around structure make great targets. And some new players emerge – seatrout, big barracuda, cero mackerel, redfish, ladyfish, blacktip sharks, and marauding schools of jack crevalles show up in the backcountry. Wind again becomes a factor, and the wise kayak fisherman will take time to plan his route with this in mind. One tried and true method is to start your day paddling into the wind, so you can use the breeze to push you back to the launch after you’re tired. If I can help you with your kayak fishing pursuits, call, text or email and we will get out there!
— Randy Morrow, Kayak Fishing Guide | LowerKeysKayakFishing.com | email@example.com | 305-923-4643