You guys – September happened in about 15 minutes.
Seriously, before I realized what was going on, early teal season had ended and it was time to wake up GreenDay.
The good news: It’s officially (legally?) fall. This means slightly cooler weather, schools of hungry redfish, gangs of keeper snook, and better trout fishing than we’ve seen in months.
The bad news: For real? Did you not read the good news? There is no bad news (unless you’re a Dolphins fan, in which case, the bad news is that there are 4 games in October).
Someone came up with the “Red October” pun years ago, and it is truly a great time of year to be on the water. Big schools of slot and over slot redfish gang up, and, in turn, gang up on whatever bait you can put in front of their nose.
If you’ve never seen the copper colored wave as a school move through a flat, you need to book a trip today, because it’s a sight to behold. For my clients, any flat from Placida south to Bull and Turtle Bays are fair game. This is the time for a 20 fish day.
Top baits are spoons, Gulp shrimp (I don’t know if the color matters, but I have 5 gallons of the penny colored ones, so we’ll go with that), mirrodines, jigs, pinfish, whitebait, shrimp, cut bait – I am not exaggerating – these fish are here to eat, and they aren’t super discriminate about their tastes.
We got snook. Catch a gajillion (I know that’s not a real thing, it just sounds better than saying “a lot”) sub-slots around dock lights, and don’t be surprised to end up with a few micro-tarpon or redfish mixed in. Some of my favorite trips are those October evenings in the upper 60’s, catching fish after fish under lighted docks.
Want big snook? There are still a few stragglers around the passes, but most of the breeder females are moving into their transitional winter haunts. Think ambush points with contour and depth changes, even in shallow water. Don’t be surprised to see a 20 pounder cruising a shallow flat, and readily taking a well placed bait.
To put snook on the deck, topwaters (I’m digging the Rapala Skitter Walk right now), suspending baits (like the Mirrorlure Mirrodine), any live baits, jigs, or cut bait. For big snook, I’m putting a big chunk of ladyfish on a point near the mouth in Bull Bay, Catfish Creek, or Whidden Creek, in that order.
The trout bite should be picking up as the weather cools. Snapper are still going strong inshore, Tripletail are along the markers and buoys outside.
We are dodging the red tide a bit right now. As of this writing it’s mostly hanging north of Little Gasparilla, but winds and tides can change that very quickly.
Want to get in on one of the best fishing months of the year? Hit me up at [email protected] or on social media (twitter and instagram) at @travisthompson . . . I still have several dates open in October and early November . . .
Stay safe, and tight lines . . .