Thankfully, October has arrived. Bait will be bigger, waters will be cooler, fish will be more aggressive and there will be more species to choose from. Trips over the course of the last few weeks have produced decent numbers of both redfish and snook. Redfish have been mostly mid slot fish with an occasional larger fish showing up. With healthy volumes of small to medium white bait around, fish will definitely key on these. Certainly, cut bait still works fine but chumming a productive shoreline heavily with pilchards and then pitching a free swimmer or split shotted whitebait into the same zone can be very effective. The initial chum tends to pull fish out of the mangroves and ramp up their feeding so they are much more receptive to the bait that follows with a hook in it.

Snook have been averaging 22 – 30 inches with an occasional larger fish coming to net. The good news is that there are enough fish around to provide consistent action. The same approach tends to work…litter an area with small whitebait and then follow with a free lined larger specimen. Fish are still being caught on the beach, but decent numbers are now being seen along mangrove shorelines as well as back inside bayous and canals…pretty much everywhere. As long as temperatures stay warm, expect this to continue. Quality fish were caught into December last year. Do note that the harvest of redfish and snook has been closed until May 10th, 2019 due to concerns of mortality as a result of red tide.

On that topic, red tide has flirted with northern Pinellas County but has not been bad enough to keep anyone at the dock. The near shore reefs…Clearwater, Dunedin and Tarpon….did show signs of dead fish and off colored water but with shorter days, cooler temps and maybe even a push from Hurricane Michael, it would be no surprise to see these reefs clear within the next week or two. With that said, large mackerel are being caught off the beach inside of these reefs and no significant fish die offs have been reported on local beaches in the last few weeks. Within the month, kingfish should represent possible targets inside of 5 miles as well, which adds a whole new dimension to near shore fishing in the area. Good luck and good fishing.

Captain Stewart Ames
P.O. Box 541
Crystal Beach, Florida 34681
727 421-5291

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