by Capt. Greg Stamper
October is the beginning of Southwest Florida’s first cool weather. We now begin the transition from summer to fall. Getting into fall conditions takes much longer for us than being up North. For Southwest Florida this is more of a casual change, that may take from now until December.
Temperatures don’t change much here in Southwest Florida; however, it’s cooling off up North. We’re now done with the brutal summer midday heat, and can expect some very pleasant morning runs in the low 70’s. None of our foliage changes color, but we do start getting a break in terms of humidity. With this change the migration of fish that don’t like cold water travel South. Fish in the panhandle, Northwest Florida and even West central Florida may feel the change in water temperature and start moving South. It’s the basic notion that where the bait goes the predators follow.
Schools of tarpon from 60-150 pounds will be following schools of threadfins and other baits moving from the Northern waters to the South. Depending on how far down the tail ends of cold fronts reach, will control how far and when these fish move South. Some years cold fronts don’t make it to Southwest Florida and the schools of tarpon stay here until December. Targeting tarpon is easier in the Fall, as they’re eating a lot and showing themselves quite often.
It’s called red October for a reason around here. The redfish bite gets good this time of the year. Redfish begin schooling up and often give away their location. Where there’s one, there’s many and can be anywhere from 18-33 inches. Our previous months showed that the recent closures of the species have helped the comeback from the previous years red tide. This is a good sign that our estuary will be strong moving into October and should produce some big number days.
Snook fishing will continue to be good. There’s big fish typically on the wrecks and reefs within the first nine miles of the shore. These tend to all be big snook, so showing up with the right size rods will make or break you. I like heavy spinning gear much like what I use to tarpon fish with. These snook aren’t stupid and just like in the back bays, they will find any structure available to break you off on. Likewise, in the back bays we will find good numbers of snook, just not as many big ones.
Pompano, mackerel, trout, sheepshead, and black drum all become targets starting in October. When we do get water temperatures to fall a few degrees these fish show up in full force. Fishing the local passes and the beaches near them, will give anglers opportunities at all kinds of different fish. Another option that continues to be available will be sharks. We’ve got all the species of sharks and you will not have to go far to get into them. Fishing in as little as 12 feet off the beaches, anglers will have plenty of opportunities with these toothy critters up to 8 feet.
Tight lines, Capt. Greg Stamper