For Cortez fishing captain, there’s no such thing as too much fishing

Late summer months give captains a chance to take a day or two off and relax as it’s the beginning of their slow season. Tarpon season is over for most, and the fall fishing season hasn’t quite begun.

It’s a chance to rest up and recover for the busy months to come. Or, for those who can’t get enough fishing in their lives, a chance to go fish for fun and try a few things that might not be so conducive with clients on the boat.

“I don’t get to do much fun fishing during the season,” said Capt. Will Osborne, who fishes inshore out of Cortez. “I’ve slowed down and have had some time to go play with the big fish.”

Big fish, indeed.

Osborne and fellow angler Peter Smith were able to tangle with big breeder Gulf of Mexico redfish that were nearly 40 inches. They’ve started to school up along the coast in anticipation of spawning and will come inshore at certain points along their journey.

“The breeders are out deep. The slot and overslot fish are shallow. This year is looking good so far,” Osborne said. “There aren’t crazy numbers of fish right now, but that should improve. I’ll start targeting them more in the next couple of weeks and usually get four to 12, but sometimes hit the jackpot and wax them. Last year during the middle of red tide, I was catching more redfish than I had in over five years.”

A few years ago, redfish seemed to be nearly non-existent. Captains noticed schools that would normally occupy anglers during the late summer and fall months were nowhere to be found.

Last year the missing redfish problem was compounded when Sarasota Bay was inundated with red tide. In good years, Sarasota Bay holds tens of thousands of redfish with dozens of monster schools. The last few years have seen little of that. Recovery has been slow, and waters Osborne grew up fishing still lack fish. As a result, a moratorium remains in place on harvesting redfish.

“It’s been a little tougher for me fishing next to everyone north of Cortez. I don’t have my home waters of Sarasota Bay anymore,” Osborne said.

“I love the closure. We need it. Some fish are bouncing back down south. We just need some seasonal fish migrations to move fish back into the areas affected. They leave Anna Maria Sound and go to the beach and reefs to spawn, and hopefully make their way south when they’re spawned out and will repopulate down there.”

Either way, Osborne thinks there will be plenty of fish to catch between the amazing snook fishing or snapper and mackerel for those wanting dinner this fall.

Capt. Will Osborne can be reached at 941-580-7293.