October is a refreshing month for anglers in southwest Florida. After a long hot summer we finally get relief with cooler days and lower humidity. That combination can get your blood pumping and energy up for some good fishing. And good fishing we come to expect this month. Fish also are appreciating the seasonal change and are active, hungry, and on the move.
You can’t talk inshore fishing without putting redfish at the top of the list. Fall is the time of year when large schools of big redfish devour anything in their path on the flats and around the Passes. Fishing will peak for the big bulls this month as they will begin their migration offshore once the first real cold fronts begin to drop in. Exactly when that will be only time will tell, if the weather remains mild the big fish can entertain us throughout the entire month.
This is also a great month to target snook throughout the inshore waters. Snook of all sizes will be on the move as they transition from their summer homes around the Gulf Beaches and make way towards their winter haunts throughout the inshore waters. It was a great summer for snook fishing, the numbers are rebounding nicely after the devastating freeze in 2010. Snook are in season, with the size-slot (28 to 33 inches) that only leave 5 inches to work with, while you may catch a lot of snook, catching one of keeper size may be another story. But snook of all sizes are a blast to catch and if luck is on your side you may just catch one in that legal slot if a fresh snook dinner is on your mind.
Last Fall we experienced good gag grouper fishing inshore, hopefully this year will be a repeat. Catching gag grouper over a shallow water inshore wreck or reef is some of the most challenging fishing you will find. They hit like a freight train and run straight to the safety of the structure, unlike offshore where you fish them vertical or from straight above, inshore you are away from the structure and make a long cast, just like snook fishing. They have the advantage, you break off more big ones than you land, but it’s exciting, and if you get a big one to the boat, season is open.
October is a month that you can either target certain species of fish or be less specific and just get in the mix of a feeding frenzy and see what’s there. Often a host of different species are ganged up on the same bait pod, it’s common to catch a half dozen or more different species from one area. Large schools of bait are moving down the coast, look for bait pods both inshore and off. Don’t be surprised if there are some larger fish lurking, keep a heavy rod rigged and ready for that cobia, tarpon, shark, or whatever else might make a presence. While targeting a specific species can become challenging and at times frustrating, looking for action with whatever might be feeding around bait schools will give you plenty of action and fun. Plus, that elusive fish that you were targeting might just show up when least expected.
Most anglers that have fished our waters for any length of time agree that October is one of the best months of the year to fish. It has it all, great weather (not to hot, not to cold), plenty of hungry fish, and the winter crowds have not yet returned. What more could you ask for in one month!
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“Catch the Action” with Captain Bill Russell