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The Inlets will surprise you

The Inlets will surprise you The Inlets will surprise you
By Jim Hammond

When the first Nor'easters start to blow and the summer temperatures start to cool, head to the inlets for some fast and furious action. As the temperatures start to drop, the fish seem to know that it is time to put on the feed bag in preparation of old man winter. The fish seem to know that it is time to start feeding up for what could be their last major feed before the large schools of bait head south, with them in pursuit.

When the large bait schools start on their southward migration, they all seem to stage in or near the inlets before the journey. When this happens, the predator fish, the ones that you and I are in constant pursuit, seem to be waiting on the bait fish to also have their last big meal before leaving the area. This is the time that you can target the inlets for what could be some unbelievable fishing. Most of the predator fish will school up in tight balls, surrounding the bait fish. If you are lucky enough to be at one of these inlets during the right time you can have some of the fastest action fishing that you have had in some time.

I will start with the tackle that I like to have READY for these days of inlet fishing in the beginning of fall.

Rods and Reels:

I like to carry several types and weights of rods and reels for the many opportunities that might arise.

Spinning gear consist of medium and heavy spinning rods and reels. The medium gear is spooled with 20 pound test PowerPro and the heavy with 50 pound test PowerPro. The rods and reels for medium weight tackle will be Shakespeare GSP 1170 7' rods with the Intrepid SS 3835 spinning reel. This outfit will be used to cast plugs, spoons and Gotcha's. For the heavy spinning outfit, I will have Shakespeare's BWS 1102 7' with the Intrepid SS 3860 or 3850. This will be used to cast the big six or seven inch plugs or free lining a big mullet. I will also have several large rods and reels for the bigger fish such as tarpon. These outfits will consist of Shakespeare Tiger Rods BWC 2202 7' heavy action with TW 50 LA reels spooled with 150 (30 pound diameter) or 200 (50 pound diameter) pound test PowerPro. The reason for such heavy line is, some of these inlets have bridges and pilings that fish like to run around and the abrasive resistance of PowerPro will allow you to still get the fish in after the fish has run the line around the bridge a few times.

Fly Rods:

I almost forgot, my fly rod. I have found a fly rod and reel combination that will catch almost any inshore fish that you might want on the fly rod. I have been using the Pflueger Supreme PSF 90-89 and 90-10 rods and the Pflueger Supreme 1878 and 1890 reels and in my opinion, you cannot buy a better outfit. I do something a little different than most of you fly fisher persons when it comes to my backing. The very first fly reel that I had, held about 75 yards of 20 pound test backing and I was told by the person that sold me the reel that 75 yards would be plenty. The very first fish that I hooked on the fly rod outfit, ran out all of my line and backing and kept on going. Now I was a lot upset because the reel DID NOT hold enough backing, did it J. B.. Now I use PowerPro for my fly line backing because: 30 lb test PowerPro has the diameter of 8 pound test and 20 pound test backing has the diameter of 20 pound test. Therefore, if you have a reel that will hold 75 yards of 20 pound backing, it will hold 187 yards of 30 lb test PowerPro. Twenty pound test backing has a diameter of more that 2 1/2 times that of 30 lb test PowerPro. If your reel will hold 75 yards of 20 pound test backing it will hold 187 yards of 30 lb test PowerPro. Now I have enough backing for just about anything out there.

Now that you have the rods and reels lets talk about the bait/baits that I like to have on the boat when fishing the inlets this time of the year. First lets think about the bait that almost everything out there is after right now. Mullet and glass minnows seems to be the food of choice for almost everything in the inlets now. Lets get our Plano tackle boxes out and see what is in there that looks like a mullet or maybe a big glass minnow. I have found several things that look like mullet or glass minnows, MirrOlure TopDawgs, 5200's, Provokers, Catch 2000's, 7M series, the 12 Fathom paddle tail minnow and the Seastriker Clark Spoon and Gotcha, just to name a few. If you have these, you are almost ready to partake in the action that my clients and I have experienced this past week. You will also need some Daichii D-16 and D-18 hooks in sizes from 4/0 to 8/0 and some heavy mono leader from 50 to 100 pound test and maybe a small piece of the thinnest wire leader that you can find.

For the fly fisher persons you will need some flies that also, look similar to mullet and glass minnows. Here are a few flies that I have had very good success with, if you are not familiar with the patterns, you can go to and see the patterns that I am referring to:

Wejebe Spanish Fly

Taborys Sea Rat

Purple Demon

Black Death

Glass Minnow

The Fishing:
A good portion of the fishing is going to be done sight casting to fish that are exploding on the bait fish, so you will need to have all of the lures already tied on and ready to cast. I will usually have two fly rods ready, one with a floating fly and one with a fast sinking line and fly. I will have different baits tied on my spinning outfits and my big tarpon rods will have 100 pound test leader tied to the PowerPro with a Daichii 8/0 D-18 hook ready for a live mullet. If the local bait shop does not have live mullet and you are even half way proficient with a cast net you should be able to catch all of the mullet that you want.

I ease into the inlet looking for diving birds or fish crashing on the surface. Once you have found this, you have usually found fish. Now all that you have to do is choose your weapon and cast in the middle of the action. If you have the correct bait, you should hook up right away. If you have made several cast into the frenzy and no fish, then throw something else. You will eventually find the correct pattern and then you will be in for a treat. Some of these fish do have sharp teeth so a small piece of heavy mono or wire might be necessary. If you have to use a leader, especially wire, make it as small as you can get away with. They will be able to see the wire and this might make a difference in their willingness to strike your lure.

Use your bottom finder to help with your search for fish. As you are easing along have your unit turned on. This can be very helpful in showing you fish that are under the surface or structure on the bottom that you did not know was there. While easing along it wont hurt to have a live mullet or two way out behind the boat. This is called trolling and is a very effective way to get fish to come to the surface and pick up a stray fish or two.

For those of you bold enough to fish around the bridge pilings and rocks there is a bounty of fish to be hooked, catching all of them is very doubtful.

Try placing you Fortress anchor on the up current side of the bridge and float or free line a mullet back to the pilings. BE READY for the strike as when it happens you will only have a few seconds to get the fish away from the pilings before he has wrapped your line around something. This is where the PowerPro comes in handy.

This past week I had a Barry Woodward hook up on a 150 plus pound tarpon and the fish ran in and out of the pilings several times before we were able to get the anchor up and work the fish into open water. Monofilament line would have long been cut and the fish gone, this is why I use PowerPro.

Keep in mind that if the fish are there on one tide they will be there (in the inlet) on the other tide. They might not and probably will not be in the exact same place but they won't be far, as long as the bait is still there.

For information on charters with Capt. Jim Hammond you can call me at 904 757 7550 or email me at [email protected].

Don't catch em all

Capt. Jim Hammond

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