The hunt for Red October is over! Redfish, Redfish, Redfish! For any inshore angler looking to target schools of Redfish, now is the time. October marks the annual spawning season for the reds and we are in the heart of it right now. From the nearshore gulf reefs to the upper reaches of the bay, good numbers of fish are being reported. In general, most of these fish are upper to overslot in the schools and when you find them, they are hungry! The Snook bite has also picked up over the last few weeks and I would expect this month’s full moon to push a lot of fish into the backcountry in preparation for any cold fronts on the horizon. For all you gulf and bay fisherman, the Kingfish are here!
First let’s cover the inshore HOT topic. Redfish. The weather can certainly be the “X-Factor” to find the larger aggregations of fish. Low light, high winds, and/or rain can make locating the schools extremely difficult. I like to use the tide to my advantage. A lot of the fish that I have found recently have been staying in the shallows – even on the lower tides. For me, having a shallow draft boat is key to being able to stay where the fish are when the water is low. When I say low, I’m talking less than a foot. During this time of year, I like to run my tunnel hull skiff and I will purposely choose the lowest points on the tide if my clients are flexible. The prime time is normally the last hour of the outgoing and first hour of the incoming tides. The concept is focusing on “catching” these schools as they transition from the flats to the sheltered mangroves and vice versa. One thing to consider is often times these fish are steadily on the move. As I have mentioned in previous articles, pay attention to the mullet. They will serve as your best guide point in locating gamefish this time of year. In more cases than not; find the mullet – find the fish. Look for any signs of “reddish-orange” colors in the water. In my area (South Shore), the water has already begun to clear up. It has been pretty easy to identify the redfish over other species with the right conditions, simply from the color in the water. This make for fantastic sight fishing and shaping up to be a good look into our late fall and early winter fishing stocks.
If you’re not interested in chasing Redfish. You’re in luck! Saddle up and head to the nearshore beaches in search of some Kingfish. That’s right, its Fall Kingfish time! With the 26th Annual King of The Beach less than a month away (Nov. 7-9), now is a good time to get some practice in before your shot at the big bucks. Particularly when fishing the beaches, look for any activity. Birds, Bait, Ladyfish, Jacks, and especially Spanish Mackerel. If you like to “run and gun”. Try trolling a high-speed lipped plug or spoon. Making circular passes aournd areas of activity will generally trigger a bite. Keep in mind, the bigger Kingfish will often lurk on the boundaries of a feeding frenzy. If you are fortunate enough to get a hold of some live blue runners, a hungry Kingfish will not pass it up. They can be slow trolled or set out on a flat line during a drift or anchored up. For trolling, I recommend “bridling” them with a 3-4/O circle hook either in the nostrils or behind the eyes. This will help keep from pulling baits off the hook and keep them looking natural and alive. If you are not into trolling, that’s ok too. There is still an abundance of bait along the beaches, bridges, piers, and range markers to load down the livewell. Set up at your favorite spot and get the party started. Start chumming. If you have Spanish Mackerel showing face, put out a big bait about 50yds behind the boat. I like to have 2. One on a float and one free-lined. Depending on the wind and current, normally one or the other will generate strikes. With stronger current, the free-lined bait seems to work better for me as the baits have a tougher time getting deep and out of the strike zone. With less current, I tend to lean towards a float to keep the bait up in the water column. Remember to always have a pitch rod ready when a hooked fish is approaching the boat. It is not uncommon for other fish to be swimming with the one on the line. You don’t want to miss an opportunity for a giant. Be ready with the gaff. There is nothing more heartbreaking then losing a fish at the boat.
Most importantly, be safe out there. The next few months will bring North winds. Coincidently, we will be faced with many days of less than favorable weather for fishing. If you decide to challenge mother nature, be prepared. It only takes one thing to go wrong and you could end up in a very bad situation.
Until next month, tight lines and following seas!
The Suzuki Repower Fishing Report is sponsored by Suzuki Repower and Mastry Engine Center.
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