Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Bluefish In Matlacha Pass

Although they're a common catch throughout much of Florida during the winter months, large schools of bluefish have been all over the oyster bars and grass flats of Matlacha Pass all summer. I've never before seen them on a daily basis during this time of year. Even though our water temps are between 85 and 90 degrees right now, these mid-size blues don't seem to mind at all and you can find them schooling by the hundreds and blitzing on mullet all over the flats called the Indian Fields, just north of Matlacha.
Bluefish are a real treat for light tackle anglers, especially using topwater lures or fly rods. For starters, they absolutely homicidal when they're schooled up and on the hunt. They'll literally attack anything that moves on or below the surface. Blues have a formidable set of teeth so I'll usually rig a thirty pound or heavier fluorocarbon leader if I think they're around. A lot of northern anglers who tangle with them regularly use flexible wire to insure against cutoffs.
Although they're not prized as tablefare in most places, I really like to keep a couple of blues for the smoker. Brining them overnight in kosher salt, brown sugar, and lemon juice and then smoking their fillets for several hours over mesquite gives them an unbelieveable flavor. A bag of smoked bluefish is one of my favorite things to snack on while I'm out on the water.