Bay County Outdoors Inshore Fishing Report
Event Start Date: 2019/09/16
It's beginning to feel a lot like fall and conditions in the bay are ripe for some really good fishing. Bait-fish schools can be found throughout the bays and its a safe bet that fish will be out there taking full advantage of them. On the grass flats you can expect to catch a mix of speckled trout, redfish, bluefish and depending on the location and depth some spanish mackerel and flounder. Early in the morning, or even later if you have good cloud cover, you can do very well using surface or topwater lures. There are many good choices on the market today but a couple of timeless go to plugs are the Rapala Skitter-Walk and the Storm Chug-Bug. If the fish aren't reactive to the topwater offerings a tried and true jig head and soft plastic bait combo almost always produces.
Sandy drop-offs on the outside of the grass flats have been the hunting grounds for a wide variety of fast swimming, hard fighting fish. They include jack crevalle, spanish mackerel, ladyfish, redfish, and the occasional pompano. The best thing about these fish is that typically they all respond very well to artificial lures. As a matter of fact you would be hard pressed to find a better top-water eat than a school of 25lb jacks fighting over a big chug bug ripped across the surface as fast as you can reel it. It's really exciting stuff. Similarly, when the redfish get aggressive they will also get after a surface bait pretty good. Just about any of the fish in the group can be consistently caught on soft plastic or buck-tail jigs with a fairly erratic retrieval.
Structures in all depths of water seem to still be holding good numbers of mangrove snappers along with some increasing numbers of flounder. Its getting to be that time of the year when we start to see a lot more of those highly sought after, great tasting, flat fish. I like to target them in sandy pot-holes and shallower drop-offs and edges with jigs but once they get into water deeper than about 20 feet it is far more productive to use live baits like bull minnow or finger mullet. I like a drop shot style rig when drifting in areas of heavy current but if Im stationary and fishing for moving fish then I like a carolina style rig.
Some of the most fun you can have this time of the year is to run around the bay targeting big bait balls in the middle of the bay. You never know what you might find lurking underneath them. You may see ladyfish or spanish feeding on them but rest assured there are always bigger fish laying in wait for an opportunity for an easy meal. Common catches include large jacks, bull reds, and many different species of sharks. If the bait school that is being fed on is near or over structure its very common for gag groupers and even red snappers for get caught up in the action as well.
Good luck and as always if you have any additional questions about what's biting, how to catch them, or you would like to book a trip I encourage you to give me a call or shoot me an email.
Capt. Nathan Chennaux