By Neil Taylor and capmel.com kayak fishing staff contributors
Around the state:
Fun, fun and more fun for the kayak angler around the state! October is a time to realize “we actually do have some really nice weather in Florida!” Now, I like the heat. But enough’s enough already. Cold fronts will become a reality sometime this month. Usually mild, fronts bring cooler, drier air and combined with less direct sunlight and falling water temperatures- the conditions are ripe for some comfortable times but also great action. Migrations of fish up both coasts will lead to exciting stories from kayak anglers around the state. Likely catches: Redfish, trout and king mackerel but the opportunities go way beyond those species.
Pensacola to Florida Bay: The month of October has opportunities that are exciting, no matter where it is you plan to go. The last stint of time before significant cold fronts can be expected: Anglers who sat out the heat of summer need to get out and enjoy the opportunities that are immediately before us.
Redfish will remain one of the biggest and best inshore targets. The really big fish should remain in “close” for a lot of the month of October. But action for all redfish should be excellent throughout the month. Tie on 1/8 or 1/16-ounce jigheads and run lures past them. Redfish will be very cooperative this month everywhere you go.
The Tampa Bay region– Speckled trout fishing will be excellent in October. Instead of the “sunrise” or nighttime opportunities, anglers from the Panhandle on down to 10,000 Islands should be catching great speckled trout throughout the daylight hours. Targeting the stronger water movement periods will be the best bet. 3 to 5-inch plastic lures like the 12 Fathom Mullet and SlamR will trick these fish pretty easily. The one variable: Red Tide. It has settled in to areas in front of Pinellas and Manatee Counties and it appears to be a bad bloom this time.
King Mackerel will be a big story around the Tampa Bay area. As water temperatures cool, they will be coming down from the waters in the northern Gulf and making stops to “do what they do” and what they do is “eat, eat, eat”. Without any wire in your arsenal, you’re not going to catch these fish. A couple of thousand tiny-razor-blades in their mouths, that wire will keep you connected to these speedsters. Set your drag right and prepare to give chase. They call them “smokers” because of what they do to your reel! Again: Will red tide change things??
Spanish mackerel will also be easy targets. The passes, piers, wrecks and rockpiles will attract plenty of these great “smokers”. While this species, when they’re the bigger variety, will tear some line off the reel like the kingfish: I call these smokers because that’s where they go- in my smoker. Mackerel fish spread! Red tide could steer a lot of these around the area.
Flounder fishing will get easier and easier. The “pass” areas will hold these flatfish up and down the Gulf coast. Targeting sandy bottom areas where the sand meets another kind of structure, whether than be seagrass, rocks, a wreck, oyster bar, or bridge piling and you may be into some nice founders. Baits or lures have to be kept down on the bottom to get strikes. Flounder to 22 inches were caught in the month of September. It is exciting to have them back as a “Tampa Bay species” again. The pass areas may be subject to red tide….
Don’t forget about pompano! This great “light-tackle fun” species will be caught off the beaches of northwest Florida from Panama City to Cape San Blas, at the bridges the passes of west central Florida and in the passes and the deep grassflats behind the barrier islands in the southwest region of the Gulf coast. Toss them a Silly Willy (yellow) and add on a pink Uncle Neil custom teaser. If you keep that jig in contact with the bottom? If you are in the right location, you will catch pompano.
In the Southwest “Suncoast” area of Florida, Steve Gibson with Southern Drawl Kayak I look for the best bets to be spotted seatrout and
snook. Trout will hit jigs, MirrOdines, D.O.A. Deadly Combinations and
D.O.A. shrimp over deep grass along the east and west sides of the
Sarasota Bay. Snook will be around dock lights and on the flats at
dawn. Shark fishing should be good in Tampa Bay. I also expect decent
trout, snook and redfish on the flats around Joe Bay. In fresh water,
I anticipate strong action on peacock bass, bluegill, Mayan cichlid,
largemouth bass and shellcracker south of Sarasota. Closer to home,
Upper Myakka Lake, the Myakka River and Lake Manatee should produce
decent bluegill, shellcracker and largemouth bass.
The East coast of Florida, The inshore waters of the Indian and Banana River Lagoons along with the Mosquito Lagoon will start to get cleaner making way for better site fishing. The water levels will be higher in October so there will be a lot more fish on the flats nearer to shorelines. The fall mullet run continues so expect lots of big fish to be feeding on them both day and night. Look for reds, snook and trout chasing this easy meal whether along drop offs or under mangroves. Sheepshead will continue be found tailing on the grass flats looking for snails and crabs as well as under mangroves. Redfish are beginning to school up. When casting, try to land your lures quietly and present them slowly so as not to spook them. Oversize redfish can still be found in the inlet. As the water continues to cool and reaches approximately 68 degrees, southern and gulf flounder will begin moving through the inlets, usually following the first major cold front, in the “doormat” sizes weighing in at 8 to 14 pounds.
In the Big Bend of Florida’s Panhandle, Robert Baker at TnT Hideaway, the October forecast is for continued action on large speckled trout, redfish, some flounder and a crack at tarpon. October means more sight-fishing opportunities in our cooling waters. http://www.tnthideaway.com/
In Northeast Florida: Redfish, trout, flounder, sheepshead all a part of the regular regime. Redfish will take the lead. Trout will accelerate late in the month. Sheepshead more likely to be easiest toward the holidays. Flounder action will boom sometime between now and Thanksgiving.
In the greater South Florida area: Everything is an option this month. The weather: Perfect. The species, you name it and we will have a chance to catch it in this part of the state. The next few months are that way. Take your pick, it is going to be good.
The tip of the month:
Sheepshead on the flats is an annual opportunity. Not likely to eat lures, fly anglers may entice sheepshead but the others would benefit from getting one dozen fresh shrimp to take along for these opportunities. Many times “tailing redfish” turn out to be these striped guys. Feed them a shrimp when you encounter them in the shallows. Put on a 1/0 hook with a single split shot up a foot from the hook and pitch it to them.
Need help learning how to kayak fish? Hire one of our guides on staff for your region and take advantage of their knowledge and sharpen your own skills!
Get out and into the action but as always: Be careful out there!