As October is now upon us and cooling trends begin, we start to see an influx of our more typical “deeper water” fish make their way into the bay and along our beaches. The sweet spot for these species, including kingfish and bonito, comes in right about that 75 degree water temperature mark, as the water makes its way back down from the consistent upper 80’s and even having broken into the 90’s over these last few sweltering months. Finding water temp below 80, accompanied with good water clarity, and bait balls, will make for a perfect recipe for kings.
Kingfish have once again begun infiltrating the shipping channel, as well as early reports off of Clearwater. These smokers are a great battle when free-lining big baits around the massive bait pods that make their way up and down the coast, as well as slow or bump trolling live bait, lures, and spoons. Blue runners, lady fish, mackerel, mullet, and sardines are always a solid option for hooking up to these highly sought after fish dip delicacies. Twist up a wire stinger rig with a single hook and trailing treble hook or double treble and try your hand at the action. Soon, all of the local hotspots will be littered with them including wrecks, hard-bottom such as Blind Pass, and drop-offs including the Skyway Shipping Channel.
If kingfish may not be your thing and you’re just out looking for action, then it doesn’t get much more exciting than hooking into a bonito. The clients on my recent trips have had a blast listening to these drag-screamers take off on light tackle! My favorite style of fishing for these pelagic fish is running and gunning up to the schools that pop up in the channel off of Egmont Key and retrieving a small silver spoon as fast as you can while keeping it sub surface with the occasional skip on the surface of the water often enticing these incredibly fast fish into top-water chaos.
Bonito are often found chasing after glass-minnows, although they can also be found terrorizing schools of thread-fins and pilchards. Therefore, keeping an eye out for diving birds as a tell tale sign of action below. Mackerel can also be found mixed in with the bonito, which are always a fun catch, not to mention chunking either of them as bait for a looming shark to step up the possible action!
Good luck this month!
Hi – I’m Captain Skylar Wilks and I am a full-time Tampa Bay Inshore Guide, residing in Madeira Beach. I grew up spending my weekends and summers fishing with my Grandparents who live across the street from the Madeira Beach Marina. In 2011, I moved a bit further south to Fort Myers and attended Florida Gulf Coast University, with a scholarship to play Division 1 soccer. When I wasn’t playing soccer, I was spending my time learning the waters and fishing in Sanibel, Estero Bay, and the Naples area. In 2015, I graduated with a degree in Business Management and moved back to Madeira Beach to launch my fishing business, Inspired Fishing Charters.