by Ron Brooks
In a word, fishing has been dynamite! The fall season is almost on us, and if the last couple of weeks are any indication, we should be in for some great action.
Last week I took a group of Georgia anglers to look for some kingfish. We found no bait on the beach, so we headed out to the near shore wreck and found schools of cigar minnows and Spanish sardines. After catching bait on Sabiki rigs we headed for a couple of bottom areas that normally hold kingfish this time of year.
On the way out, we encountered a huge school of flying fish. Knowing that they are the favorite forage for mahi mahi, I slowed and put a couple of flat lines out in the prop wash. It only took about five minutes to get bit, and a pair of fish hit the two baits. Only one stayed hooked up, but he was nice enough to provide a grilled fish dinner for the group.
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Over the next wreck, we hooked up with a bonito. The fight was really good until that familiar wham left us with dead weight. Our friendly barracudas took half the bonito for themselves.
We did manage to catch one of the smaller barracuda, but were unable to find or connect with any kingfish. A half-day in the hot sun was sufficient, so we headed back to the ramp.
On Saturday, we headed offshore again, this time stopping to catch a couple hundred cigar minnows and goggle eyes for live bait. We ran about 21 miles offshore of St. Augustine to an area of live bottom that was covered with baitfish.
The change of the tide proved to be the best fishing, and in about an hour we boated one cobia, several large mangrove snapper, and about twelve grouper. Only one of the grouper was legal size, but the number of smaller ones is a good sign for future trips.
Then on Labor Day, my son went back to the same live bottom and got another good catch of cobia, snapper, and grouper.
Bottom fishing all up and down the Atlantic coast will be on the upswing over the next month and should remain hotter than a firecracker until the water temperature really starts to drop. Those of you without a boat can do very well on a party boat during the next couple of months. The weather patterns will keep the seas down and the fish will be moving into the closer reefs and wrecks.
So plan on some great bottom fishing as fall arrives. Send me some pictures if you catch some good fish, and well put them online for you. And use our reader submission function to tell us about your trip. Well put that online as well!
Tell us your fishing experiences and reports on the Saltwater Fishing Forum.
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