Tampa Fishing Reports

October 2008 Fishing Report

October Tampa Fishing Report The last week in September brought the first hint of cooler air...a signal to all fishermen that our more active fall bite is on the way. Confirming this change of season are water temperatures around 80 degrees and the appearance of species such as Spanish mackerel and bluefish. Also, whitebait is also now readily available off of our local beaches. Snook fishing has remained "hit and miss” with quality fish occasionally being hooked while in pursuit of the more abundant redfish. If you are intent on hooking a snook, begin to scout their normal transition areas...spoil islands, mangrove shorelines, and potholes on the flats or off the ends of oyster bars to locate these fish. Once you have found several groups of fish, wait for good moving water and fish these areas with bobbered or free lined whitebaits. If the fish fail to cooperate, sometimes dispensing some extra "chummed" whitebaits can help get them in the right frame of mind. Night fishing lighted docks is also still an effective approach this time of year as well. With few exceptions, redfishing has remained strong on any day with a decent tide. As October represents the best month of the year for this species, each trip begins with the anticipation of finding a good group of fish or possibly finding some of those outsized bulls that show up in our near shore waters about this time. Again, with the current abundance of whitebait, fill your live well and head to flats known to hold redfish schools. If a school of fish is sighted, begin liberally distributing whitebaits. Although not an everyday happening, there's nothing more exciting than watching a hungry school of reds surround your boat and start boiling on these free handouts. On days where these schools are nowhere in sight, map out a good itinerary of likely redfish holding spots and work each area. Keep moving until you find active fish. Don't drive by large schools of mullet without sending a few baits into their midst. Some of the best redfishing you'll ever have starts with a quick check of a mullet school. With other species, such as snook becoming more active, fishing with bobbered whitebaits will give you the best chance at catching all species available. Large jacks, mackerel, and bluefish are among the other species that might be encountered. By mid to late month, our near shore fall fishery should really begin to take off. Bonita, Spanish mackerel, bluefish and kingfish move in on the large schools of pilchards and threadfins found right off of our beaches and provide excellent light tackle sport. Using 15 to 30 lbs test braided line with a two foot length of steel leader on a medium action spinning rod will get the job done on these fish. Stop at the beach, load your bait well with whitebait, find some near shore hard bottom or an area active with bait schools, and it shouldn't be long before you're pulling on something. While pursuing these toothy predators, there is a very real possibility of coming across a cobia, bull redfish, or even a stray tarpon...any of which would put a huge exclamation point on an already exciting day of fishing. Winter seems to be arriving a little later each of the past few years. If this trend repeats itself, this near shore opportunity could remain active into late November / early December, but there's no point in waiting until then. There's plenty of opportunity to catch quality fish right now.

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