It is transition time for the many fish we spend our days chasing although Fall doesn’t seem so transitional in terms of our weather. The change of seasons happens regardless of getting those early cold fronts or whether we have consistent heat that feels more like summer. The water and air temperature will still be high, but the sun drawing to the southern sky and shorter days are a precursor to the coming cold. With that cold will come changes in prey availability and our favorite predator fish know that change is on their doorstep. This transition period is a time when the fish fatten up and find suitable areas to winter over. Many times, the mullet run will drag into this month and obviously places with heavy bait concentrations will be the exact place where hungry fish will be readily found. For the redfish and seatrout of East Central Florida most winters are just a bit of an inconvenience as it takes some real cold to affect them negatively, and we just don’t see many winters like that. Two of our other favorite targets to chase in the warmer months are snook and tarpon. With those sub-tropical/tropical fish winter is serious business, and the chance of colder waters sends them on the hunt for that perfect spot to chill as the cold settles in. Both tarpon and snook have a low water temperature threshold of about 54 degrees. This means those fish can be cold stunned and potentially killed if water temperatures dip too low. This is why you rarely see them in numbers north of the freeze line. As the month wears on the snook that have been enjoying their time on the beaches and around areas like Ponce Inlet and Port Canaveral will start to head into our lagoon systems and feed along the way. Many of the tarpon will actively migrate south to ensure the cold is not an issue.
With all this movement and all the increased feeding these fall months can account for some of the best topwater lure fishing of the year. Slightly cooler water will liven up predators and the action/noise of a topwater plug can ring the doorbell just right soliciting some massive strikes that are hard to beat. The walk the dog type plugs work better over an inline prop or chugger style. That side-to-side action of a Zara Spook, Top Dog, or Skitter Walk is almost irresistible. Don’t hesitate to use these plugs throughout the day as opposed to low light only (morn/eve) in the warmer months. These lures also help you cover ground and find productive fishy areas.