by Capt. Greg Stamper
With the end of 2020 near our focus turns away from watching low pressure systems. Our concerns of fish changing patterns moves from the warm waters of the Gulf and Atlantic, to the Florida state line. The cold fronts are coming and depending on how far they get through our state, will depend on what, when, and where we will fish.
Sometimes we get lucky, being on the southern end of Florida as fronts making it this far down are usually rather weak. With that said we hope all the fronts stall out near Tampa leaving us with incredible fishing till the years end.
The migration or push of fish has already been going on through October. However, the biggest factor is when will our first significant cold front or two make its way past Tampa thus effecting Southwest Florida. We have already seen many of the migrating fish that have followed the big schools of threadfin herring, menhaden, and pilchards that are everywhere in our area. The predators that eat these fish are not going anywhere unless the bait gets pushed South of here. Kingfish, Cobia, tripletail, bonita, and mackerel are just a few examples of what has already set up home here in Southwest Florida.
The back bays are full speed for redfish, trout, black drum, and pompano. The water temperature should stay in the high 70’s barring and substantial cold weather. If water temperatures stay up snook and tarpon will continue to be targeted regularly as they continue to fatten up for the future months of cooler water coming. Lastly in our back bays we usually stumble upon some strangers this time of the year that occasionally are just doing a drive by to see what is going on. Permit, tripletail, and cobia are good examples of fish we pick up randomly during these changing times, so be ready for anything.
The offshore guys will be able to target a lot of different species now. Those that choose not to make the long 40 plus mile runs can easily target kingfish throughout the area. There is a lot of different ways to target these fish. Trolling large deep diving hard baits works well, or freelining blue runners in areas you already know they exist are two of the easiest ways.
Look for kingfish starting now regularly from 15-50 feet of water. Those that run out to the deeper waters will be able to find plenty of red grouper, lane, mangrove, and mutton snappers, as well as aj’s and kingfish. The timing of these trips very much depends on the weather so again paying attention to the cold fronts coming from the North will be important. Typically, the days leading up to a front arriving are your best bet.
Tight lines, Capt. Greg Stamper
239-313-1764 Fort Myers beach, FL