Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Tarpon Springs Fishing Report 10-2011

October 2011 Tampa Fishing Report
Monday, 03 October 2011
Written by Stewart Ames

In a perfect fishing world, October brings large redfish, schools of Spanish mackerel followed by kingfish, bonita, shark, some stray barracuda, and mangrove snapper. It can also signal the beginning of the near shore fall grouper bite. All of this can make this month one of the best of the year to fish. What actually shows up, when it shows up and how long it stays will all be determined by temperature. With the arrival of the first cold front of the year a few days ago, the process appears to be in motion. The first mackerel showed up about three weeks ago. Many were small...typical for these early arrivals. Some 4 - 5 lbs. fish were caught before the last front though so many more should follow within the next week or two. Also, bait is now blanketing the beaches and this should spur the arrival of the remaining predators mentioned above. Calm days with east winds tend to bring fish closer to the beach so most inshore Tampa fishing guides wait for this weather pattern to best take advantage of this near shore bite.

The first order of business on a Tampa fishing charter is to stuff the bait well to capacity with frisky pilchards. In order to maximize the amount of baits in the live well, target pilchards over threadfin herring (the other whitebait) due to their durability. Threadfins packed in close quarters will die much more quickly than pilchards so fewer can be kept. The more bait available for chumming, the greater the likelihood of success. With a stuffed live well, head to near shore reefs and ledges in 15 to 30 feet of water. Begin chumming live and wounded (crushed) baits liberally. Oftentimes, mackerel surface immediately and the bite is one. On other occasions, it may take 15 to 20 minutes to lure mackerel that are in the area to the back of the boat. tampa fishing for beach redfishIf no fish show up after 20 minutes or so, go ahead and change locations and repeat the process. It's best to try a different depth when moving. Whatever the case, while chumming, deploy a few free-lined baits on standard inshore tackle. Number 2 long shanks hooks on 30 lbs flourocarbon may work just fine to prevent "bite offs" from these toothy fish however, if long shanks alone don't solve the problem, short steel leaders of 4 - 6 inches will get the job done. Use 31 - 40 lbs Malin Hardwire or the tie-able American Fishing Wire (AFW) to make these leaders. Regarding swivels, the extremely small Spro brand is preferred as these don't leave much of a bubble trail. Mackerel, when frenzied, will bite at anything, including the swivel if it draws enough attention. Once fish are found and become active, continue to chum as kingfish, bonita, barracuda, snapper and even grouper may be drawn to the action. If one of the smaller rods get "smoked" by a larger fish, be prepared with a heavy spinning rod and reel capable of holding 250 - 300 yards of thirty pound test as a kingfish may have shown up. On this rod, put out a larger bait on a balloon with a stinger rig. Larger would be anything too big for the Spanish mackerel to eat...a smaller mackerel, larger blue runner, ladyfish etc. monster flounder caught on tampa fishing charterChances are that a bigger predator working the slick will find this bait in fairly short order. Most Tampa Fishing guides are constantly looking down into the water behind the boat as, at times, other predators like cobia will swim right in or mangrove snapper will rise up off the bottom to help themselves to a free dinner. It's important to see these other fish as a cobia might not eat a whitebait but will immediately strike a pinfish cast in it's direction. Snapper might be too line shy to eat a bait on a steel leader but will readily take a bait on a longer, lighter flourocarbon leader.

Barring any early cold, redfish numbers could increase and, with a little luck, decent numbers of breeder or bull redfish will appear close to shore as well. These thirty to forty inch plus fish can be hooked everywhere from right off the beach to over the same near shore ledges that hold the fish mentioned above. Locating them takes a lot more work than catching the standard sized redfish but it's well worth the effort once one of these brutes is on the line. Medium sized pinfish and large cut bait are ideal for attracting the attention of these heavyweights. Since redfish don't typically run for cover, very large fish can be caught on standard inshore tackle. It just takes a little longer to bring them in. Small to medium sized slot redfish have started to show up in slightly greater numbers over the last month, giving hope to a decent finish to the redfish season. Another fish that tends to be caught a little more frequently as the water cools is the flounder. This is not a fish that is commonly targeted by Tampa fishing guides. It is more of an incidental catch when fishing for redfish and other species but sandy bottom areas adjacent to rocks are a favorite stomping ground for this stealthy predator.Cleaning a flounder requires a different approach due to their oddly shaped bodies but the meat is excellent to eat.

A Tampa fishing charter in October might yield more than a half dozen different species on any given day and the moderate temperatures make it a great time of year to take advantage of our beautiful, local environment...so don't wait. It will be Thanksgiving before you know it. Good luck and good fishing.

Captain Stewart Ames

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