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Change Is In The Air

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On: Sat, Sep 7, 2013 at 11:08AM | By: Captain Sergio Atanes

Jan Fry with a 36-inch Redfish

September is my changeup month, when the weather starts to cool just enough to get the big boys to bite. Snook are slowly making their way back to the mangroves after their spawning season in the passes. The breeders or large female Snook spent most of the summer in the passes spawning and are now ready to return and prepare for the fall weather when they work their way into creeks and rivers.

As the water temperature starts to drop the bite increases and the fish become more aggressive. I love September for catching big Redfish, a nice change up from the normal summer fishing for Mackerel, Trout, and Flounder. Not to say I didn’t catch Reds or Snook, but most of my summer clients prefer fast action rather than sitting in the heat waiting for a few Redfish to bite.

September tactics: The big Redfish start roaming the flats and are hungry, but not yet ready to chase down live bait. So my secret to catching the big ones is using cut dead bait on the bottom, but not just any dead bait. My years of experience tells me they love cut pinfish and threadfin sardines. Remember that you want a nice chunk but not too big, because you want them to be able to take it on the first bite. I switch from my regular 1/0 to a 2/0 or even a 3/0 circle hook and 30-pound fluorocarbon leader about three feet long. Depending on the depth of water I could use a number 3 or 4 split shot to keep the bait on the bottom. I put two rods off the stern and two rods on the bow of the boat while tossing some cut bait around the boat every few minutes to create my own feeding station. Patience is the key word here, so don’t be in a hurry. Sit and wait, and the big ones will come, and, yes, there is a chance you could catch a few Catfish but it’s worth it if you can land the big ones.

Don’t overlook deepwater docks with structure, because as the sun gets high and the temperature rises they hold big Redfish, Flounder, and Snook looking for cooler water and shade. The best times are an outgoing tide around mid-day.

Tackle: Medium action 7.5 ft spinning rod with 15-pound test braided line (braid works great around structure) 2500 to 3500 spinning reel, 30-pound fluorocarbon leader at least three feet long tied direct to the braided line using a surgeon’s knot with a 2/0 or 3/0 circle hook.

Baits: Fresh cut pinfish, threadfin sardines and ladyfish. The key word here is fresh. Any cut bait not being used should be kept on ice. Greenback sardines can be used as a substitute if the above baits are not available.

Capt. Sergio’s Saltwater Fishing School will be held on October 19th and 20th on When, Where, and How to Catch Fish in Tampa Bay.

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