Story by Ernie Martin 

Anglers and fish alike prefer cooler temps 

Hello to all the friends of Hook and Trigger Magazine. I have been looking forward to this time with much anticipation. It’s my hope that this report finds you in good health and with some great fishing stories of your own. I have several fishing stories that I will share with y’all in the coming months.


September in the Florida Panhandle is not much different than July and August as far as temperature is concerned. It’s just hot out there! To quote an old George Jones song, “She’s hotter than a two-dollar pistol.” The heat needs to be your focus when out on the water this month. Stay hydrated and try to fish early mornings or late afternoons to avoid heat exhaustion.

When it comes to fishing in September, I treat this month very differently than the month of October. Low and slow is the name of the technique I use for all freshwater species during September. For example, when I am targeting bluegill, I try to fish deep in the clear lakes and rivers that we have in this area. My rig will be either a light spinning rod with a 6- to 8-pound test, or a telescoping pole in the 12- to 15-foot range with the same pound test line.

I will use a hook that matches the bait and not the size of the pan fish. For crickets, I’ll use either size 8 or 10 gold hook. I generally use a size 4 or 6 hook for earthworms and wigglers. I will add just enough pinch weight to get my bait to the bottom. I also add a sliding cork to my spinning rod and set my depth with a stationary cork on my telescoping pole. I let the bluegill tell me how deep to fish and this time of year that is usually within 2 to 3 feet of the bottom.

For all the bass anglers – whether you are a tournament angler or a laid-back bass fisherman – the season’s techniques are highly dependent on two entities: water movement and water depth. If you find moving water, either in a river or a reservoir, the bass will tend to be feeding in the early morning shadows and will move out to deeper confines as the sun rises. My go-to baits are set up for both scenarios. My pre-sun-up baits are top water lures such as buzz baits, prop baits, frogs of all types and jerk baits. I will, however, switch to crankbaits and soft plastics once the sun clears the trees. I can attest to the fact that these techniques and baits work.

I have had the pleasure of fishing with and against some of the best local anglers in the southeast, and these are the summertime techniques that not only catch bass, they also help tournament anglers cash checks!


When September is in the books and October is here, my excitement level increases dramatically as I anticipate the first cool front of the fall. Notice I didn’t say cold front, since we haven’t seen a real cold front in about two years! Once the temperature cools down, the length of time that I spend on the water increases. Let’s face it, the fair weather makes fishing more enjoyable and the fish like it, too.

If you’re a bass fisherman and you love throwing top water baits, this is the beginning of some all-day top water action. I have caught bass on top water baits all day in the month of October. Pick your favorite spot and tie on several different top water baits and figure out the one the bass want and have a blast.

Now to be honest I don’t fish for pan fish in October. I am either bass fishing or I am on the bay with my cast net. If you have lived on the Florida Gulf Coast for as long as I have then you know what I am catching in my net: mullet! Mullet are a fall favorite. I thoroughly enjoy heading out to the bay and catching some big mullet in the morning and dropping them in the grease that afternoon. I have suggested to my wife that I am going to a college football game and tailgate with fried mullet. I would have done this already but I’m scared that I would create a problem if I didn’t have enough for everyone. A typical fall Saturday in the south with fried mullet and football is a blessing. I hope you have an opportunity to enjoy both this fall. 

Until next time, God bless and good shing. 

This article originally appeared in the Sept/Oct 2017 issue of Hook & Trigger Magazine.