Well, the tropics are starting to ramp up; we just had hurricane Idalia, which in my area, did nothing more than leave a few downed leaves and limbs and gave us some extra rain and winds. Further north however there was a lot more damage, especially north of Jacksonville as the storm went right through that area. We are praying for all of those who are without power and are being affected by the devastation of the storm right now.
It didn't take long for temperatures to return to the stifling heat that we were having before Idalia hit. Now we are back to super hot afternoons and fishing in the morning to stay away from the crowds and the heat. But we have good news around the corner, as September clears out our beaches from so many tourists in the summer and the temperatures should start to give us a little relief by the end of the month, we hope!
Just last Sunday I was out fishing on a beach I had not been able to access for several months, and I not only caught keeper pompano, but also a keeper redfish! And I got all that and a whole lot more on our GoFishCam, which was so very cool to see. You can click here to watch that video: https://youtu.be/czrjy8GVqT4.
This month’s contributor is a good friend and fellow surf-fishing guide from a little further south, but the beaches that he fishes and tactics used are very similar to what we are seeing in the Jacksonville area. Chris Mansfield with Reel Healin’ Outdoors has some great tips to share! He can be found on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/ReelHealinOutdoors) and Youtube (www.youtube.com/@reelhealinoutdoors), as well as on TikTok (@reelhealinoutdoors201) and Instagram (Reelhealinoutdoors).
Let’s get into this September’s surf-fishing forecast!
The last few weeks the sandfleas have been hit or miss for me. They are either out in force or very sparce; nothing in between. All the fish I caught Sunday were mostly biting on the sandfleas. I didn’t have a rake with me Sunday but caught plenty with my hands. The next day I was back at the same spot and found an abundance again; this time catching 20-30 in one swipe with my rake. The day after Adalia came through I checked all the beaches and didn’t see signs of any. Maybe that came up during a different tide, but I wasn’t noticing any colonies. Those storms can really change things!
Mullet have been running in the surf for quite a while now, which I also saw in the underwater footage from the GoFishCam at the start of August, about a month early! We are all getting excited for when the mullet run is in full swing, probably later in the month, so practice your cast net abilities now before its fully upon us! The mullet will be bringing a lot of larger predatory fish into the surf like tarpon, redfish, black drum, and bigger sharks.
Chris tells us that any color float seems to work really well when combined with Fishbites and fresh dead shrimp. Interestingly, he notes that he tends to get bigger hits and more “game fish” on Fishbites alone. If you have an idea for why this might be the case, feel free to leave a comment.
As usual, I always stress having plenty of options of Fishbites or other synthetic bait on hand. And everything in the ocean and in saltwater eats shrimp—live, fresh dead, or salted, they all seem to work. I’m still having the best luck with either pink shrimp Fishbites or sandflea, however when I’m on a beach that has a lot of clam shells laying around, I will try the clam flavor and try to match the colors of the shells I am seeing, and that is producing too.
Weather and Water Temps
Our water temperatures lately have been higher than I’ve ever seen it, and those warm waters are a breeding ground for dangerous storms. We’ve already seen one major hurricane come through NE Florida, and we are just starting hurricane season. Just the other day the water temperature at Matanzas beach was 88 degrees; Flagler was 86, and down in Ormond Beach it dropped to 82 degrees! Where Chris is fishing, he says that the water temperature has been running between 82-85 degrees and that the water has been really dirty the last few weeks, resulting in a lot of catfish bites and inconsistent pompano catches.
It has been strange to see waters further south having lower water temperatures, but I believe that could be caused from the storms brewing out in the Atlantic causing thermoclines, which is an upwelling of deeper water getting pushed to the surface, causing a drop in water temperature. This can also effect the species of fish we see in the surf if it becomes too uncomfortable for fish who live in warmer waters and they have to leave the area in search of waters for suitable to their breed.
So make sure to stay on top of the storms and stay safe. Even if you are not in the direct path of a hurricane, your area could be hit with larger tides and storm surges, so pay attention to the forecast. I have found Mike’s Weather Page on Facebook and YouTube to be a very accurate source of information about the tropics and storm activity.
If you are looking to know when to be fishing, Chris says, “I do better either two hours before or after any tide, as long as the water is moving.” This is something I hear a lot through Salt Strong, as they always stress to look for moving current. This seems to be the case in the surf as well as inshore. When the tide is dead low or dead high, that seems to be where the bite is—dead. But once the current starts to move again the bite typically picks up.
Make sure you are planning your trips in advance when you can. And if you can’t pick when to go, pick the best beach for the conditions you will be dealing with. I shared recently with Brian Demo in my podcast with him in the Finding Demo Surf-Fishing Podcast (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qLf2Hpv-hJc) that if I am going to a low-impact beach I try to fish it leading into low tide. For a high impact beach, I seem to have better results leading into high tide. Of course, with high impact beaches, that deeper trough generally means you can catch fish on either tide, but for me, closer to high tide has produced better in the past.
Our Fishin’ Girl float and pompano rigs have been really producing a lot of awesome fish for us, and I believe they will work for you too! We have been getting tagged in posts, and getting great feedback from people using the rigs and catching some awesome fish on them! We have a deal with a sample pack that is like getting one rig for free! Visit www.FishinGirlStore.com.
Thanks so much for reading! If these reports have been helpful, I would love to hear from you. Find Fishin’ Girl on Youtube, Facebook, or Instagram, and leave a comment to let me know what you’ve been catching. Tight lines!