Snook, Trout and Redfish
By: Captain Danny Guarino
October and the afternoon thunderstorms are winding down. As we get farther into October the thunder boomers will be all but gone and our attention will focus on the passing of cold fronts that bring that dreaded northwest wind! We do have to keep an eye south for any tropical development as October is a prime month for development in the western Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico. Water temperatures will begin to drop from the low 80’s to the low to mid 70’s by month-end. With the cooling water temperatures, we will begin to see fish become more and more active.
In early October Snook, Trout, and Redfish on the flats and back bays are favorites but care in handling is paramount because it is still closed season in this region for these three species. Carefully ensuring their safe release back into the waters will help ensure our future generation will be able to enjoy a sustainable fishery.
As water temperatures drop Snook will begin to seek warmer waters of the creeks and rivers that empty into Tampa Bay. I like to target snook in the deeper waters of the rivers and creeks. You can typically find deeper water near or at sharp river bends or anywhere the currents have made the water a little deeper. Greenbacks are my bait of choice.
Redfish have started to group up in mid-September. These schools are easily spotted on the clear flats of Tampa Bay’s Southshore. Look for redfish around mangrove tree lines, oyster bars, or on the open grass flats. Sometimes the school of redfish will be intermingled with mullet schools. Try using small pinfish about the size of the palm of your hand under a cork or you can soak cut up ladyfish in the middle of a sand hole that is surrounded by grass. Either way will work fine this time of year
Trout should be on the shallower grass flats in early fall and as the weather gets cooler the trout will move into deeper areas near the river mouths and passes. Based on the summer catch of trout I would expect to see a good number of big trout caught this fall season. Try to find grass in the 3 to 4-foot range. Shrimp or a greenback under a popping cork are great baits to use this time of year. Another good technique for trout is to use a D.O.A Shrimp under a popping cork. This works very well from now through the spring season.
Spanish mackerel will also be around through mid to late October or until the water temperature starts to drop through the low 70’s. Fish mackerel with live greenbacks and chum with a frozen chum bag. 40 # leader and an extra-long shank hook will improve your catch to break (bite) off ratio.
I do expect a few Tarpon to be around but winding down as we progress through October. I have caught tarpon in open water as late as the 1st week of November, that being the exception, not the rule. There are a few Tarpon that stay in Tampa Bay year-round, but the bite is a bit tough. Look for Tarpon at the river mouths around the Palm, Alafia, Little Manatee, and the Manatee Rivers. Juvenile Tarpon can be found in some of the deeper bends of our local rivers. D.O.A bait buster is a great bait to use for these fun fish.
October can be a great month to fish the Tampa Bay area waters. Get out and try your luck but stay safe and have a great time.
Capt. Danny Guarino a lifelong resident of the Tampa area and semi-retired fishing guide on Tampa Bay. 813-956-2010
Photo Credits: Wayne Margole Orlando and Perry Baileykopp Atlanta pose for a photo with 2 Tampa Bay snook caught while on a fishing trip with Capt. Danny Guarino
A big thank you to Captain Danny Guarino for providing us with his secrets to a great catch!!