As I sit down to proverbially put pen to paper and write this report, I am serenaded by the sound of Tropical Storm Isaac’s onslaught against my office window. Isn’t hurricane season great? Honestly, who doesn’t enjoy a forced vacation in the Sunshine State when it’s raining 24/7 and the wind is blowing said rain sideways? If you are a Resident who prefers to plan their vacations sans Armageddon, there’s really only two options; home or bar. For a number of reasons, not the least of which is the fact that it’s been a long summer, I opted for staying home. Having chose this option leads to another choice; couch or honey-do’s. My crippling procrastination won’t allow me do anything until it absolutely has to be done, so naturally I end up on the couch. Now, this would have been awesome had I not already had several days off before uninvited Isaac showed up, but as it stands, I am already at my indoor limit. I have exhausted everything I recorded on the DVR and I’m dangerously close to watching some of the wife’s Real Bitches of Somewhere I Never Want to Be. It’s either that or live television and with all the political ads, I may find myself in the garage sawing the trigger guard off my shotgun so that I can insert my big toe. The only thing more annoying to me than the aforementioned two would be the National Marine Fisheries Service and the South Atlantic Fisheries Marine Council.
If you wondered why the NMFS and SAFMC are at the top of my list, welcome aboard! It’s nice to know that my reader base has expanded by one… If Daniel Tosh did a show about the NMFS/SAFMC, it would be a solid half-hour of video clips containing nothing but rapidly moving objects impacting people’s crotches. In case you’re wondering, the dates have been set for the upcoming snapper season. The season will consist of two three day weekends in September 14-16th and 21-23rd. The bag limit will be one per person with no size limit. Originally, the season was supposed to be three weekends, but the recreational quota has been set at 9399 fish and we are expected to reach that mark in six days. Additionally, the commercial season has been set for Sept. 17-23 with a 50 lb trip limit and an overall quota of 20,828 lbs gutted weight. I don’t think that I’m being pessimistic at all when I say that this whole thing is a big steam pile of sh#t!! Honestly, am I supposed to be happy or grateful that the enviro-nazis are going to allow me to fish for six days on a stock of fish that is probably the healthiest stock of fish in the South Atlantic? I think not.. What they are doing is f*$#ing criminal!!
Speaking of snapper, they were one of the few bottom fish that wanted to bite last month. There were actually some great catches of mangrove snapper, which we are allowed to keep. They were averaging about four pounds, but there were some giants in the low teens caught. Most of the mangroves were caught on the inshore (inside 125’) reefs and wrecks. Along with the grovers, there were a few grouper caught and some triggers, bass and porgies. The amberjack were pretty much an absentee ballot last month.
For September, the bottom fishing will likely remain slow, except for the six days that red snapper are in season. It should be a relative no-brainer to catch the one per person bag limit of red snapper if you are anywhere near some sort of bottom structure. The reds will likely eat anything resembling bait. The other morning, we were feeding fried chicken to a couple eighteen pounders hanging ten feet off the transom! The mangroves, however, will require a bit more finesse. You will need to scale your line and hook sizes down to a minimum as these guys can get very finicky. They will respond to a variety of small live baits and cut sardines. As far as grouper and amberjack go, I’m gonna hope Isaac turned the snow globe upside-down and when things settle, we will be able to catch a few of each. Any of that action will likely occur from 27 fathoms on out to the cones.
For the few people that trolled last month, there really wasn’t much happening, but September can surprise you sometimes. Maybe the sailfish will start to move early or the dolphin will show up with some of the hurricane debris traveling up the gulf stream. It will be a matter of putting in the time trolling and covering ground. If we get any rock shrimp boats, we may find some blackfin tuna milling around them in the morning when they dump their last bit of by-catch. If the boats are there, there should be plenty of bonita and sharks with a few tuna and an occasional mahi.
The gold star last month has to go to the slow trolling on the inshore reefs and wrecks. It wasn’t over the top, but it was the go-to fishing for the month. Both the kings and cobia were pretty steady and there were a rew dolphin and sails mixed in with a wahoo or two. Provided the water cleans back up, I would look for the action in September to remain much like that of August. The biggest problem will be finding the pogies. They were here one day, gone the next last month, so expect to spend some time looking for them if you want to go live baiting.
While you’re looking inshore for bait, keep your eyes open for the mullet schools. Once the fall mullet run starts, there may be no need to leave the shoreline. Feeding on the mullet will be snook, jacks, tarpon, bluefish, spanish mackerel, flounder, mangrove snapper, ladyfish and a possible cobia.
Do yourself a favor and get out while the getting’ is good. It won’t be long before the cold fronts start knocking on the door.
And don’t forget to take a Council member fishing.. Wink, wink…
See ya on the pond!!