I've always been fascinated by those channels that go from saltwater bays into the oceans, and most of my experience with them has been in Florida.
On Florida's west coast, they are referred to as passes, but on the Sunshine State's east coast, they're called inlets or cuts. The entrance to the massive west coast estuaries of Charlotte Harbor and Tampa Bay are so huge they really do not qualify as passes. Generally the passes are calmer than the cuts and inlets, given the latter's fast drop-offs into deepening waters and topped off on the Gold Coast by the nearby Gulf Stream.
Miami's Government Cut — locally known as "The Cut" — is a real phenom. The amount of boat traffic, volume of water, as well as shrimp and finfish schools going through The Cut is massive and often astounding. Because of the twin rock jetty configuration and the expansive length of The Cut's throat, smaller vessels like large flats boats, bay boats and (to me, ideally) center console vessels can sneak into lee shores or pockets depending on wind velocity and/or tidal direction.
Ultimately for all these vessels, the best times are calm conditions on weekdays, when boat traffic is lighter. At all times, small boats fishing The Cut must be on the constant lookout for massive passenger ships, and large yachts and flying bridge sport fishermen, which can throw off massive wakes. But a good guide and vessel in moderate weather should allay any concern.
Fishable spots in The Cut include: inside the middle along the ship channel, alongside the rock jetties (inside or outside — north or south), fishing off the points of the jetties, and fishing outside of the mouth itself. Each of these spots offers some type of excellent fishing year-round. From December through April, shrimp runs pour out the center of The Cut on an outgoing tide, attracting big schools of tarpon as well as bottom fish like snappers and groupers, plus the stray permit. May and the summer months feature residual tarpon as well as schools of spawning snook moving into all of the above sections of the waterway. The fall months feature the fabled mullet run which attracts large schools of jacks, sharks, bluefish, mackerel, tarpon and snook. In this case, all anglers need to do is follow the showering mullet schools to find the predators. One particular hotspot is north of the entire cut closer to the beach, not far from the swim buoys.
If you ever travel through Miami even with a one-day stopover, be sure to hire one of the many quality and able-bodied guides that ply this marvelous waterway for some rod-bending action.