This is a great month for redfish in shallow water. Schools of reds will roam shallow flats early in the month. It is easiest to find them when the tide is low. Look for them pushing wakes along bars and on top of shallow grass flats. When they are sitting still, the school may appear as a patch of "nervous" water. Once you've located them, get ahead of the school and work around the edges to avoid spooking the whole school. Top water plugs, fly poppers and Gurglers may make reds show themselves. When the top water bite slows, I like CAL jigs with jerk worms or wide profile baitfish fly patterns. By later in the month, schools of reds will begin to break up and spread out on shallow flats. With plentiful baitfish and cooler water, they are usually more aggressive. Instead of large schools of reds, you may find them as singles, doubles and small schools. Key on mullet schools to locate reds later in the month.
Catch and release snook fishing should also be good in October. Snook will be in a transition mode this month. As they move towards backcountry areas, they will stage around docks and bridges and along sandbars where you may be able to catch them in shallow water. I like to use top water plugs, CAL jigs with shad tails or jerk worms, fly poppers, Gurglers and wide profile baitfish patterns for snook in shallow water. Look for them along mangrove shorelines when the tide is high and in potholes or along bars when the tide is low. You'll also find them staging around docks and bridges in the ICW at night where small white flies and CAL jigs with shad tails and jerk worms should work well. There may also still be some snook in the surf, although their numbers will thin out as they move to inside waters.
Tarpon may still be an option this month, particularly juveniles in upper Charlotte Harbor. Look for them rolling in canals and creeks or on shallow flats near the mouth of canals and creeks. Spin anglers should do well with fast sinking plastic baits, like the DOA TerrorEyz and Baitbuster. Fly anglers should do best with sinking fly lines and scaled down versions of tarpon flies that we throw on the beach. In deeper water, a faster sinking fly line usually works better. You may also find large tarpon feeding in baitfish or ladyfish schools in open water of upper Charlotte Harbor or along beaches. I have found frenzies of tarpon feeding in baitfish and ladyfish schools along the beaches in the fall before. It's hard to predict and more often it's about being in the right place at the right time!
Trout should also be a good option this month. Look for big trout in skinny water at first light. They may be mixed with mullet or feeding in bait schools. Top water plugs, DOA Shrimp or Baitbusters and CAL jigs with shad tails or jerk worms should all work well for shallow water trout. Fly anglers should score with Gurglers, poppers and wide profile baitfish patterns. Some of my favorite shallow flats for big trout, reds and snook are in north Sarasota Bay. You'll also find trout on deep grass flats later in the day. I like to make a series of drifts across deep grass flats, casting ahead of the drift with CAL jigs with a variety of tails, DOA Deadly Combos or weighted flies on sink tip fly lines to find trout. Once you've located fish you can shorten your drift or anchor on them. In addition to trout, you might also find bluefish, Spanish mackerel, pompano or flounder on deep grass flats. The flies and techniques to find them are the same as for trout, although you may need to add wire or heavy fluorocarbon when toothy fish are around. Blues and mackerel may feed on the surface or pompano may "skip" making hem easier to find.
You might also find blues and Spanish mackerel feeding on the surface in the coastal gulf, but I think the most fun will be with false albacore (little tunny). Look for diving birds and baitfish being forced out of the water to find them. CAL jigs with shad tails and jerk worms and small top water or floating/diving plugs, should work well for spin anglers. Fly anglers should score with my Grassett Snook Minnow fly or small (#4) Ultra Hair Clouser flies fished on a clear intermediate sink tip fly line. Sometimes you'll see Spanish and king mackerel or false albacore launching out of the water as they skyrocket through bait. You may find also find them around the edges of feeding schools of Spanish mackerel or albies. Blind casting a top water plug or big fly popper in the right area at dawn might draw an explosive strike. If you don't get them to eat on the surface, drift over structure, such as artificial and natural reefs, and use a ¼ or 3/8-ounce CAL jig, TerrorEyz or weighted fly on fast sinking fly lines to get into the strike zone.
Tripletail may also show up by the end of the month. With lots of crab traps going into the water by Oct 15 as stone crab season opens, look for tripletail around crab trap floats. I usually pick a line and run it for a while before moving inshore or offshore to another line. Once located use a trolling motor, into the wind or current to maintain control of the boat, and cast a bulky, lightly weighted fly to them. Spin anglers should score with live or DOA shrimp and CAL jigs with shad tails. It may require some effort to find them, but they're a great sight casting opportunity. You might also find cobia around crab trap floats or free swimming on the surface, especially over structure. They'll require medium heavy spinning tackle or a 9-weight or larger fly rod. Top water plugs, DOA Baitbusters or 5 ½" CAL jerk worms should work for spin anglers. Fly anglers should score with wide profile baitfish patterns, such as Lefty's Deceiver or Tarpon Bunny flies.
In addition to stalking reds and big trout in skinny water, I like to fish the coastal gulf for false albacore, Spanish mackerel, tripletail and more this month. There are good options both inshore and offshore depending on conditions and tarpon are still an option in upper Charlotte Harbor. Whatever you choose to do, please limit your kill, don't kill your limit!
Like this forecast? Comment using your Facebook account below and share it with your friends on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or Email by clicking on the logos.