by Capt Greg Stamper
October is finally here and nicknamed “Red October” for a reason. Redfish will be top billing all month as they begin schooling up and chasing bait. Typically, this is the month in Southwest Florida when redfish school up on the flats, beaches, and offshore as they fatten up on the hordes of bait, crabs, and mullet available. It’s a great time to be fishing especially on the strong tide days as fish can be seen pushing water from great distances. The cool part about seeing pushes of water, is it isn’t always what you think it is. Often, you’ll be pitching baits at a school of redfish only to be greeted by snook, jacks, or trout all good with me either way. There’s a lot of other targets we will pursue throughout the month but redfish are certainly first choice when schooled up.
Snook fishing is also very good during October, but being that the season is open they’ve also been subjected to a little more pressure. Regardless, if you know where they are, you can have a lot of fun with fish ranging as small as 18” all the way up to those pushing 40” plus. Your best bet is to put your trolling motor down and cruise slowly around the areas you think they should be in. Snook like to hang out in groups or packs this time of the year so if you see one, there’s probably a bunch more around so we’ll work those areas well. Snook can transition toward their Winter haunts during October if we get any cold fronts that make their way through the area. If no real cold fronts make it, then the fish won’t go anywhere till next month as there will be plenty of bait still on the beaches and nearshore waters. Last year that push to the rivers, creeks and similar winter haunts didn’t even happen till December, so it’s all up to Mother nature in that respect.
Tarpon fishing can be outstanding October and November based on the cold fronts and what happens there. We had no real fronts make their way through Southwest Florida till December last year and thus we caught tarpon all the way till then as the schools of herring left end of the year. Tarpon will be found along our beaches, bridges, and nearshore feeding well till the water finally gets to cold and the bait continues its journey South. Typically, these migrating tarpon are around a hundred pounds so be sure to bring the right tackle to get the job done.
Our nearshore wrecks and reefs are another awesome fishery during October. Permit, cobia, snappers, etc.. are all available to target as well as one of my favorites the tripletail. It’s not uncommon to catch tripletail upwards of 20 pounds down here over the next few months. Most tripletail are caught site casting, but those willing to put faith into their favorite markers and bridge pilings can also be generously rewarded. Tripletailing is a run and gun type of fishing, so covering lots of ground usually gives anglers the best chance of getting a big one.
Finally, the cuts, river mouths, and passes heat up from here till it gets cold. I use the word cold loosely as my Northern friends laugh when I say, “you realize it’s going to be 59 degrees tomorrow morning” but that’s cold for us! As we get close to the end of the month the water temperatures can drop into the high 70’s. That triggers pompano to start chewing, as well as trout, mackerel, and the occasional bluefish. When the water finally starts cooling off everything will change around here. So keep tabs on water temperatures and watch for those initial fronts moving down the coastlines and you’ll be able to plan out a great day of fishing for yourself.
Tight lines Capt Greg Stamper