Gulf Coast Fisherman Magazine Vol 40 - No. 4 FALL 2016 - Page 27

Gulf Coast Closeup (Continued from page 11.) tarpon, cobia and other large fish, some people prefer to fish closer to shore for such species such as speckled trout, redfish, whiting and flounder. Anglers can also catch black drum, Spanish mackerel, croakers, pompano, bluefish and other species. “The pier offers one of the best fishing experiences on the Gulf Coast,” said Chris Sherrill, a frequent visitor. “With some live shrimp and a little cut bait, people can wear out the fish sometimes. I’ve caught tripletail, black seabass, pompano, monster jack crevalle, a real variety of fish. I take my four children out there with light tackle and they catch pinfish, flounder, trout and redfish. I’ve caught trout bigger than five pounds. It’s a perfect place to spend a family day.” The pier remains open 24 hours a day all year long. What people catch largely depends upon the season. In the spring, giant spawning sheepshead gather around the structure in large numbers. They feed among the pilings, munching on barnacles or other crustaceans. Anglers drop live shrimp next to the pilings to tempt these powerful creatures. Cobia also migrate along the coast from late March through early May. Occasionally, mackerel fishermen catch one on live bait throughout the summer. Some people keep a 3-ounce jig tied to a rod waiting for a cobia to appear. As the waters warm into the 60s, Spanish mackerel migrate up from Florida. Many anglers tempt these toothy predators with shiny spoons or jigs. Heavy Got-Cha plugs sail forever and entice both Spanish and king mackerel. “Soon after the first Spanish mackerel show up, the water around the pier fills with thousands of them,” Thornton said. “As the water warms, mackerel start chasing minnows near the surface. That’s when a bubble rig works very well.” To use a bubble rig, fill an acrylic float about halfway with water to give it casting heft. Attach about a 36-inch leader to the float and tie on a small fly, tube jig or other enticement. Toss the rig out as far as possible and periodically jerk it to splash the surface. “The splashing mimics the sound of gamefish striking minnows on the surface,” Thornton advised. “That attracts other gamefish that see the lure bouncing around just below the surface and nail it. From the pier, it’s a really fun way to fish because we can see the mackerel striking the lure.” Soon after the Spanish mackerel arrive, their larger royal cousins move in and dominate the action at the Octagon through late fall. Many anglers fish for king mackerel by dangling frozen cigar minnows or live scaled sardines, known locally as “LYs,” from floats. Diving plugs can also work. Anglers cannot cast nets from the pier, but many people catch baitfish with sabiki rigs or ribbon rigs. A ribbon rig uses a red ribbon attached to a section of mesh. Drop the rig gently on a baitfish school. Baitfish see the ribbon and peck at it, entangling their gills in the mesh. From about mid-July to late August, tarpon migrate through the area and sometimes gather in huge schools. Some tarpon exceed 100 pounds. Many people hook them while fishing for king mackerel or toss a plug in front of a moving school. “For many people, hooking a tarpon on the pier is an angler’s first big encounter with a large gamefish,” Thornton said. “King mackerel is the most popular fish on the pier, but incidental hook-ups of other large species can introduce anglers to a variety of big gamefish. When someone hooks a big fish, other people can (Continued on page 32.) OFFSHORE FORECAST On the scale, the figure 10 represents average speed and time duration of approximately three hours of movement. This movement is followed by a three hour period of diminishing current speed and feeding activity. Each number above, or below the average number 10 represents an increase or decrease of 5 percent in strength of flow and fifteen minutes in additional or less time. As examples, a speed rating of 15 shows a current flowing 25 percent stronger than average and lasting one hour and fifteen minutes longer than average currents. This 15 rating will have four hours and fifteen minutes activity out of each six hour period of tidal cycle for that day. A speed rating of 6 shortens the time of activity by one hour and has 20 percent less strength than an average current. The longer and stronger current action always indicates the better fishing days offshore because of increased bait movement. There is no clearly defined line to indicate where the rotary currents become onshore tidal currents. It is generally accepted that waters over 5 fathoms (30 feet deep) will have rotary currents. For more information on these tables visit: http:// gulffishing.com/rotary.html. OCTOBER DATE 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 DAY SAT SUN MON TUE WED THU FRI SAT SUN MON TUE WED THU FRI SAT SUN MON TUE WED THU FRI SAT SUN MON TUE WED THU FRI SAT SUN MON SPEED 9 9 9 10 10 10 9 9 9 8 8 7 8 9 10 10 11 12 12 11 10 9 8 8 7 7 8 9 9 10 10 NOVEMBER DATE DAY 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 TUE WED THU FRI SAT SUN MON TUE WED THU FRI SAT SUN MON TUE WED THU FRI SAT SUN MON TUE WED THU FRI SAT SUN MON TUE WED SPEED 9 9 10 9 9 8 8 7 7 8 9 10 12 13 13 12 11 10 10 9 8 8 7 8 9 10 10 11 12 12 DECEMBER DATE 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 DAY THU FRI SAT SUN MON TUE WED THU FRI SAT SUN MON TUE WED THU FRI SAT SUN MON TUE WED THU FRI SAT SUN MON TUE WED THU FRI SAT SPEED 11 10 10 9 9 8 7 8 9 10 12 13 14 13 12 11 10 9 8 7 7 8 9 10 10 11 11 12 11 10 10 OCTOBER • NOVEMBER • DECEMBER 2 0 1 6 27