Hurricane Ian was forecasted with nearly every model in the days leading up to landfall in Florida, to rip right through the heart of Tampa Bay. Within the last 3 days of landfall the forecast began to shift slightly more and more south. While this was a blessing for the bay area, it was a tragedy for Southwest Florida. Hurricane Ian made landfall as a category 4 in Sanibel, Naples, and Fort Myers causing widespread destruction, power outages, storm surge that tore homes and businesses apart. We are praying for those communities and families and hope they rebuild even stronger, as they have shown unbelievable strength and resilience throughout this catastrophic event.
October begins a cooling trend for Tampa Bay, as fall is now officially upon us. This time of year can be one of the most productive months for catching multiplespecies on every fishing outing. From fishing goofy jigs for Pompano under the bridges and throughout the passes on the big swinging tides, to moving out in the bay and causing mayhem on the surface with live bait for mackerel, bonito, cobia, and jacks. The fishing this time of year is some of the best!The water temp will hover around the 70’s, as cold fronts come and go over the next few months. A new hatch of bait is here and while a ¼ net was required the last few weeks, you can now begin throwing a 3/8 net without gilling them, since we are into mid October. The white bait has begun to flood the flats and near shore structures and big bait schools, along with the cooler water temps, have begun to bring the pelagic species such as kingfish, jack crevalle, and mackerel closer to the beaches and into Tampa Bay.
Fall King of the Beach will be November 3rd, 4th, and 5th and registration IS OPEN.
Redfish have begun to congregate in bigger schools on the flats and with these dropping temps and lower salinity levels their yearly migration throughout the Gulf is beginning. There can be schools of hundreds of redfish cruising the gulf and in and out of bay over the next 3 months or so. Seeing a school of bull redfish pop up out of nowhere is one of the coolest sites you can see while fishing. These monsters will eat anything thrown their direction and will boil on the surface bringing an entourage of birds looking to get in on the action.
The snook bite has been some of the best in recent weeks since the hurricane came through. The storm sucked out a ton of water from the bay and the rain has helped to rapidly cool the water, since we haven’t actually experienced our first cold front of this season. Fishing a few days prior to a cold front will be productive, but as the front is upon us the bite will slow until it has passed and then the fishing will fire off again. Planning trips according to the fronts will help ensure a productive day on the water. One thing that caught me by surprise on my first trip back on the water since the storm was the water clarity. I expected extremely murky water from all of the rainwater and runoff due the vast amount of rain this area received, but the slower sides of the tides have shown clean water in and around the beaches and bay. The fall frenzy has officially begun in Tampa Bay!
Good luck and good fishing,
Capt Skylar Wilks
The Suzuki Repower Fishing Report is sponsored by Mastry Suzuki Repower
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.