Flats Report (POST IRMA behaviour and water analysis)

Please pardon my grammatical errors

My favorite lures for hurricane season-

-Marker 54
M54 hard plastic LIVE shrimp (larger size)
M54 JerkShrimp (natural, or chart tail)

Bull popper (mahi mahi) (all sizes work)

X-rap long cast (S-14) (mullet, mangrove minnow, pinfish, mullet, gold, white)

Mullet swimbait (largest size ONLY) (striped mullet)

Fluke or Shad tail (cotton colour, greenback, clear glitter, glow glitter

-Gambler EZ
(all sizes) (white, electric chicken, gold, Florida 5/0, copper field)

(left a bunch out)
First and or second day after:
After the first day and most of the second, the fish pushed up from their deep water structure and began to return to the shallow flats. The first day I noticed that there where huge schools of bait that moved relatively unopposed (small air bladers) with the odd ball snook or redfish that had ridden out the storm on or near the flats. These fish that had remained either on or very near the flat where in one of the two categories, either extremely big or under slot. The first day the water clarity was murky but still clear enough to sight cast. However the second day until present and into the future the river would start and by the third day, turn the flats black with "chocolate water" or "cypress juice". This influx of river water would also cut the salinity of the water significantly. The abrupt reduction of the salinity levels in the water near the river deltas create quite the phenomenon. The first day the fish where on the flats but the schools where still in deeper water column then normal. By the 3rd day the water was dark (black flats)with river water but the fish where still acting normal and could be found in the usual spots "within reason". It seem as if over night to the forth day the fish had all moved out and into deeper water or around the bends (300-400 yards to 2 miles from the river delta). Please remember that this does not apply to lone fish. I often found a good amount of lone fish around the flats even if the water salinity was nearly nothing. Not to jump around but I found that a lot of the absolutely massive fish or the largest fish in the river who end up being the laziest fish in the river, often times where just sitting on the bottom of the major shipping and boat channels which was interesting to me because it's one of the rare times you can target these fish because they are almost all in the same place just chilling. This happens because saltwater is heavier than freshwater. But back to the main two points of this all, behavior or lone and schooling fish. During this time when the schooling fish where off the flats around the river, you would often find them in deeper water (10-20ft). This only happend, I found, around the river delta, the coast around the river delta was pretty normal I found (the fish did act funny but it was speratic at best with the odd drainage that ultimately depended on what the land around that bit of coast was used for or as I say, "100 yards at a time"). As the drainage intensified so did the spreading out of the lone redfish, snook, trout, mackerel, tarpon, and as did the increase rarity of pompano (still not quite sure why when it comes to pompano). Mackerel soon became one of the hardest fish (besides pompano)to target as even before the flats turned "black" these fish where in small schools or, larger ones, in pairs, but this was before the hurricane. After Irma mackerel (spanish) became nearly nonexistent. By the end of the first week after Irma the flats where complete black and there was about 3" "viz" near the river delta. The coast line in general was "black" but I'd say normal golf course pond water with 6"-4ft "viz". when water quality is this bad I find that the best way to target these fish is chum, a bag O chum is ok but I'm talking as in live bait. I like fresh chum because it's still got all the good stuff but it won't smell rotten to these fish. That might not sound important but it greatly increases the chance of getting tarpon or snook to come take a wiff. My favorite bait fish to use for chum is pinfish, greenbacks, mullet, and ballyhoo. Once you get the fish into your area you can just sight cast them with lures because a properly chummed fish will act "a-strange" or careless allowing you to easily spot and cast to them. If your not in the mood to tango with a gamefish I'd just use live bait. (THIS IS NOT A COMPLETE REPORT, I AM NOT A MARINE BIOLOGIST NOR IS MY REPORT 100% ACURATE)

Good Vibes & Perfect Tides

Check Out My Instagram For More


  • permit_mepermit_me Posts: 919 Officer
    solid detailed report and real nice fish. you got it dialed in. Being that I have not been out down in Tampa bay area for about a month, i was wondering what things were like post irma. great description. Went out off crystal river last week and water was like coffee there too. I did pull a nice snook off the bottom of the shipping channel several miles offshore - just maybe she was there in deeper saltier water.
    You catching any late season poons outta your yak?
  • The Renegade AnglerThe Renegade Angler Posts: 11 Greenhorn
    Big tarpon usually migrant away but we have some that stick around all year that are absolute mondos 100-200lbs. These fish normally don't come to close to shore and stay in and around the 7-30ft min of water or around the barrier islands. Tarpon under 80lbs usually never migrate and stay in and around the rivers depending on water temperature. The larger tarpon are far N few in between and unless you're name is Jason then I wouldn't expect to be catching more than one MAYBE two (with a little love and luck we'll all get by). River tarpon however are a hell of a lot easier to catch because for one there's more of them. They are also less picky and well... like 1/4 the size. Average river fish depends on the river structure you fish, main river is 30-80lbs while backwaters is 30 inches with creeks holding 10-20" fish.

    Good Vibes & Perfect Tides

    Check Out My Instagram For More

  • TarponatorTarponator Under a BridgePosts: 11,278 AG
    What is this "river delta" you speak of?
  • FS ShelbyFS Shelby Posts: 687 Officer
    Great report, thanks for sharing with the FS forum community!

    You will now be entered in our forum giveaway! Keep posting new reports until September 31st for more chances to win the fishing trip of a lifetime with Fishing Nosara in Costa Rica!

    Check out http://www.floridasportsman.com/2017/06/12/win-costa-rica-fishing-adventure/ for more details.
  • Jcclark3Jcclark3 Posts: 10 Greenhorn
    Great report man! Keep it coming!
  • skyway andeskyway ande Posts: 3,243 Captain
    Super report!
    God, save the South!
Sign In or Register to comment.