Fishing report: Fall brings great Gulf action

Linda Pena and Angie Mathis with Suwannee flounders.
Linda Pena and Angie Mathis with Suwannee flounders. (Photo by Rick Pena)
Photo by Rick Pena

Last week we reported our expectation that Hurricane Ian would (as named storms have in the past) produce some wild, unusual saltwater catches.

Although no wild tales have come in, there certainly have been some outstanding fish-catching trips to the Gulf Coast since the storm.

Steve Walker fished last Thursday off Cedar Key with Gary Wainwright and Ed and Linda Sapp. Seas were calm and “baitfish were everywhere.”

The mackerel-catching veterans were a bit disappointed upon arriving at Seahorse Reef, as the water was considerably darker than it had been during a visit a few weeks earlier. Mackerel fans always prefer to fish water with good visibility.  Fortunately, at least, there was scant floating grass, so trolling was easy.

The anglers put out spoons and small jigs and soon learned that the less-than-clear water had not caused the macks to leave.

“We hooked up right away,” Steve said. “And every fish we brought to the boat had several more following it. After an hour, we had all the Spanish mackerel we wanted.”

Later, in the nearby area known as the Kingfish Grounds, the four fishers slow-trolled live baitfish with light tackle. Action was much slower here, but finally a strike came at 3 p.m. This turned out
to be a nice 17-pound kingfish. 

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Almost an hour later, an obviously larger fish took one of the two trolled baitfish and broke the line.

There was no time to be disappointed, however, as just a few seconds later the other bait was struck by a silver torpedo that cleared the water on the strike. The king dumped about half of the line on the reel before Walker could fall in behind to chase it. 

After 20 minutes, the anglers boated a 33-pound kingfish to top off a “wonderful fishing day.”

Inshore reports have been likewise impressive. Rick and Linda Pena and Linda’s sister, Angie Mathis launched Sunday morning at Suwannee.

Once out into the gulf, they ran north to a flat that has recently produced well for them. The three cast jigs with soft plastics and Gulp! baits as the tide rose and they found willing speckled trout right away.  The upper-slot specimens did require a certain color, however. 

Rick said, “As long as there was pink somewhere on the bait, it worked.”  

While they were filling limits of trout, another fish occasionally took their jigs, as flounder evidently found the pink jigs appealing as well. Angie’s ultra-slow retrieve accounted for three of the four flatfish they harvested. The flounders averaged 18-inches.

The Pena boat’s flounder catch will go down as some of the last flounders legally harvested in Florida for a while. Recreational harvest of flounder closes statewide on Oct. 15 and will reopen on Dec. 1.

One other note: Anglers anxious to get in on the great mackerel action detailed above should be advised that on the weekend of Oct. 15 and 16, Cedar Key will hold its annual Seafood Festival. 

This is a great event, but if you’ve ever unwittingly trailered a boat into the island community during a festival weekend, you probably made the mental note to not do it again.

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Brian Wolfsohn

re: Suwanee Flounder.. Up north we had flounder and fluke. I couldn’t tell from the picture which these were..