October Fishing Frenzy

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Capt'n Tom

October is always one of the nicest months of the year here. The severe heat from the summer has dissipated, and fall migrations are in full swing. Water temperatures have fluctuated from the high-70’s down to the low 70’s, and even dipped into the 60’s for a brief while. With the passage of cold fronts, the water gets churned and sandy, then slowly clears as the winds subside and sunny weather warms the water up.

We saw a great variety of species in October.

Spanish Mackerel continue to be caught in the mornings, with the bite returning later in the day. The Mackerel have been biting on live shrimp under a float, cut baits, lures, and even Sabiki rigs. The Autumn Mackerel are some of the largest of the year, with many good fish above 20 inches. Mackerel are a great-eating fish, but you must take care to insure the best taste. Ice your Mackerel down right away, and cut the dark red meat away when filleting. Another way to enjoy Mackerel is to smoke them. Their oily flesh lends itself nicely for the smoker, and preserves them as well.

Lots of Pompano have been around, with fishermen getting some beautiful fish in the 15-20 inch range. Pompanos love shrimp, but can also be caught on a variety of lures we stock in the tackle store. Yellow jigs and goofy jigs target the Pompano, and both work well with a little practice and luck.

Tarpon were still around in October, and a few nice fish over 50 pounds were jumped, fought, and released. Early morning and late evening were the times the fish were hooked here. Once water temperatures get down into the 60’s, the Tarpon will leave this area for warmer winter abodes.

Nice Trout Catch
Nice Trout Catch

Spotted Sea Trout fishing was very steady this month. Sometimes we may see a few Trout in the morning, but the vast majority of them are caught at night under the lights. Live shrimp is one of the best baits to use for Spotted Sea Trout. You can also use small minnows caught on a Sabiki rig to trout-fish, but it is frustrating to lose live baits to a hoarde of ravaging Pinfish. Grub-tail lures work well, as do the MirroLure swimming minnows. Top-water plugs can also be effective, with the added bonus of watching the fish strike and slash the lure. We carry some of the best patterns in the tackle store. Spotted Sea Trout season will be closed for the months of November and December here in this region of Florida. Catch-and release fishing is permitted.

Sand Sea Trout and Silver Trout have no closed season, and have been seen with more and more regularity as the seasons progress. Both can be taken on cut baits, shrimp, and lures. Best fishing for these is in the evenings.

Whiting have been more common catches in the evenings as the waters cool. Whiting can be taken on cut squid and cut shrimp. Multiple-hook rigs are a common practice here, and produce well once the fish are located. With no size or bag limit, Whiting provide a small but tasty fillet.

Silver Perch are showing up in the evenings more and more, and will also take a variety of baits.

October was a great time to catch a nice Flounder here on Pier 60. We saw some nice flatties in the 20-inch range taken on live minnows and live shrimp. Flounder are also likely to bite a grub-tail lure bounced around on the bottom.

Emma of North Carolina with a Redfish
Emma of North Carolina with a Redfish

Redfish have been feeding around the pier in big schools that “mud” the water up in a clearly-defined area. Casting ahead of the fish may result in a hook-up with a “Bull” Redfish in excess of 25 pounds. The Redfish is a fighter of great renown, with a head-shaking pull that tests both gear and fishermen. Baits include shrimp, cut baits and lures. Redfish are also known to have a liking to a gold spoon fluttering within striking distance. Although the big Reds must be released, they are a worthy opponent. Red Drum must be in the “slot” of between 18 to 27 inches, and some pretty keeper Redish were caught this month.

Grouper season was opened to recreational anglers from October 16 to November 15. We saw a few Gag Grouper caught here, but all were under the 22″ minimum size limit.

Sheepshead have been feeding around the pilings, and can be caught by chumming then using a small but strong hook weighted with a split-shot. Crabs are favorite bait, but shrimp also works well, and is more available.

A few Bluefish are making an appearance, and will be more common here in the weeks ahead. The Blues feed with abandon, targeting the schools of small minnows around the pier. Anything getting in their way is apt to get bitten. Lures and cut baits work well for them.

Lots and lots of small Sharks have been seen around Pier 60 this month. BlackTip Shark, and BonnetHead Shark are the most common, but we see other species here as well. Pier 60 has a policy of No Shark Fishing, but by-catch and release is okay.

November brings more cold fronts with the accompanying rains, wind and high surf. As the fronts clear through the area, winds and seas moderate and good fishing returns. Keep an eye on current conditions by clicking on the link to the NOAA weather station out on Pier 60. Be flexible with bait and lure selection, and you may find a new way to catch fish.

Good Luck Fishing!