There isn't a more exciting time of year than right now for outdoors sportsmen.
Fall brings tremendous options: Bow hunting, gun hunting, fresh water fishing and saltwater fishing are in full swing. It is the best of the best time of the year to hit the outdoors.
In South Louisiana, we don't get the visual changing of the seasons our northern neighbors enjoy, like changing of the leaves. Our fall consists of whatever northern fronts make it down this far.
In the middle of October, a strong front dropped mid-day temperatures from 92 to 78 in a 24-hour period. OK, not cold, but at 78 it was cool to us, especially after five months of 90-plus temperatures.
With those drops, conditions for anglers change as well, most for the better. Inshore to offshore anglers are experiencing absolutely outstanding opportunities for many species.
Redfish have concentrated in large numbers in the bays, ponds and coastal shorelines. If you can find moving water and bait around any point, cut or jagged shoreline, then you're bound to find redfish. It's that awesome right now.
There are a few other species that are opening eyes as well. Quite the table fare, flounder are gorging on juvenile pogys and storm minnows on ledges close to a mud or sand flat.
Saltwater anglers generally prefer falling tides when pursuing game fish, but when it comes to flounder, I really like an incoming tide. Flounder will follow the ledge and as the tide rises they will slide up on to the flat. Just a foot or two is all you need to find some great action. Again, the key is moving water.
As far as speckled trout, all I can say, is "It's on!" Trout are concentrated in the open bays, mouth of bayous and over oyster reefs preparing for their fall spawn. Diving birds as they are probably the best fish finder out there, and certainly the cheapest.
And stained or dirty water does not really seem to matter. Sometimes we get wrapped up on finding clean water for the trout, but throw that out the window now.
Add black drum and sheapshead to the inshore list as they too are hungry.
Inshore hot baits
REDFISH: Top Water baits, Gold Spoons, Spinner Baits, and 3/8 Jig heads & plastic tail
TROUT: Soft Plastics under popping corks #1, Top Water Baits, and Live Shrimp
FLOUNDER: Live mud minnows or dead shrimp on the bottom
DRUM, SHEEPSHEAD: Dead Shrimp or cracked crab on the bottom
Deciding on what to pursue is a tough decision.
Yellowfin and blackfin tuna are crazy from the waters off the mouth of the Mississippi River and all the way to south of Cocodrie.
The migration of mullet is on and if you find a school offshore, especially in waters of 300 feet or deeper, you're bound to find action. Birds, once again, are a great indicator, and even if they are just circling it's worth checking out.
Also a secret that's not so secret is that there can be crazy action around deep water shrimpers when they clean their catch.
Amberjack and grouper at the deep water platforms and structure are a no-brainer, and red snapper can be a pest as they are virtually at any platform off the mouth of the Mississippi River from 25 feet deep on out. Yes, 25 feet.
I have stopped at several and with light tackle spinning and bait casting equipment caught one after another. Snapper from 5 to 20 pounds are caught and released as they can't be kept at this time of the year because they are endangered? That's a topic for a different day, one I will address soon. But they are still a great option for action.
Closer in, anglers are experiencing the fall run of cobia, also known as ling or lemon fish. It's not out of the question to pull up to a platform and see 15 to 20 of them swimming around, making great opportunities for both conventional and fly fisherman. Most are found in 35 to 100 feet of water. Mix in the schooling king and Spanish mackerel, mangrove snappers, jack crevalle, sharks and there is action for all.
Offshore hot baits
TUNA: Cut pieces of Menhaden, use as chum as well as bait, live small Blue Runners (Hardtails), 4 oz jigs
AMBERJACK, GROUPER: Live Blue Runners (Any Size), 4-12 oz jigs
COBIA: Live Pogy's, Live Hardhead Catfish (Yes there is a reason for their existence) and 2-4 oz jigs