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On the Water: October presents good fishing opportunities

By Staff | Oct 10, 2018

PHOTO PROVIDED Captain Tony Price had a great time teaching his young kids about catching and fighting fish. This big redfish was caught and released on cut bait while fishing north Pine Island Sound.

As the water temperatures of southwest Florida begin to drop large schools of bait fish make their migration south into our waters from the northern gulf. Many predator fish also are on the move south. Combined with our resident species, October presents good fishing opportunities.

You can target a specific species of fish or just get in the mix of a feeding frenzy and see what’s there. Often a host of different fish are ganged up on the same bait pod, its common to catch a half dozen or more different species from one area. Don’t be surprised if there are some larger fish lurking, keep a heavy rod rigged and ready for that cobia, tarpon, shark, or whatever else might make a presence. While targeting a specific species of fish can become challenging and often frustrating, taking advantage of whatever might be feeding around bait schools will give you plenty of action and fun. Plus, that elusive fish that you were targeting might just show up when least expected.

Offshore, look for bait balls from just a few feet of the beaches out into the gulf about as far as you dare to travel. Birds are the best indicator to locate the schools, watch for terns, gulls, or other birds grouped up and dipping to the water. Look for what appears as rain (bait fish) on the water, watch for feeding activity and fish breaching the waters surface. Artificial reefs are some of the best areas to concentrate your efforts. It’s common to catch king and Spanish mackerel or maybe a cobia near the surface or drop a bait to the bottom for snapper and grouper.

Inshore, watch for the same key signs when over open water or deeper grass flats. Also, a pod of dolphin hanging around an area is a great indicator of fish. Along shorelines and areas of shallower water you will also notice schools of nervous bait and possibly fish busting them at the surface. This is where you can expect to catch snook, redfish, snapper, and some big trout. Don’t ignore mullet schools, there is almost always something hungry and often big, either mixed in or hanging around the perimeter of the schools. Large trout and redfish look for food flushed out from the schooling mullet, and there is always the possibility of a large shark cruising around the perimeter of the schools, often in only a few feet of water. If you are a wade fisherman take note and keep your eyes open.

For much of the summer anglers up my way fishing around Bokeelia and Charlotte Harbor reported an unusual number of pompano; schools were concentrated over sand bottom along bars where shallow water meets deep water. Shrimp under popping corks and small pompano or Silly Willy jigs are the best way to cover some ground. Watch for pompano skipping in your wake to give up their location, they run in schools, if you see one there is more.

Capt. Bill Russell

October is one of the best months of the year to fish, hopefully the red tide clears out as the temperatures cool. Look for great weather, plus the winter crowds have not yet arrived and expect hungry and aggressive fish. If you are fishing or just spending time on the water this is a great month.

If you have a fishing report or for charter information, please contact us at: Gulf Coast Guide Service, 239-283-7960 or visit “http://www.fishpineisland.com”>www.fishpineisland.com or email gcl2fish@live.com.

Have a safe week and good fishin’.

As a native of Pine Island, Capt. Bill Russell has spent his entire life fishing and learning the waters surrounding Pine Island and as a professional fishing guide for the past 18 years.