Capt. Rick Gross and Seth, 9, and Soria, 7, Radebach of Bradenton show off their catch of mangrove snappers. The kids fished ahead of the rains in September.
Paul Haulbot of England shows off the 32-inch snook caught Sept. 28 on a free-lined shiner that he was guided to by Capt. Rick Gross of Fishy Business.
Mark Smetana and Chip Major, both visiting Anna Maria Island from Ohio, show off some of the grouper and cobia they reeled in Oct. 1 on live bait in 40-50-foot-deep waters in the Gulf of Mexico with Capt. Warren Girle.
Slightly cooler weather brings on red-hot fishing action
October is finally here and the long-awaited cooler weather is around the corner. If you noticed, water temps in the Gulf of Mexico have dropped to around 80 degrees. This slight drop has triggered a feed. Spanish mackerel, jack crevalle, blue runners and bonito are corralling bait schools around the beaches. Look for diving birds to locate the fish. Numerous shark are mixed in with these migratory fish, so have a heavy rod rigged up.
On the flats, snook, redfish and trout are responding to live shiners and pinfish free-lined behind the boat. Look for schooling reds along mangrove shoreline with good water flow. Look for big snook in these areas, too. Spotted seatrout can be found on shallow flats early in the morning. Top water plugs are a cool way to target these yellow-mouthed fish. As the sun gets up higher in the sky, move to deeper flats and switch to soft plastics on a jighead.
Capt. Warren Girle is fishing nearshore structure for a variety of species. By using different methods of bait fishing, Girle’s clients are reeling up snapper grouper, Spanish mackerel, kings and even shark.
To start, Girle is anchoring over structure to find mangoes and gags. Once anchored on “the spot” Girle is instructing his clients to drop their baits to the bottom. By doing this, mangrove snapper up to 12 inches are being reeled up. Gag grouper up to 29 inches are landing in the boat. As a bonus, Girle is catching cobia, with the biggest coming in at 36 inches.
Moving inshore, Girle is targeting schooling redfish. By using live bait or artificials, Girle is managing to get rallies of redfish in the chum. Expect to catch slot and over-slot fish. Also, snook and trout are mixed in to add some variety to the catch.
Capt. Rick Gross of Fishy Business Charters is targeting Spanish mackerel and shark off the beaches of Anna Maria Island. By anchoring among big schools of bait, Gross is finding Spanish mackerel in the 5-pound range. By chumming with live shiners, Gross is creating a feeding frenzy behind the bait for his clients to cast into. Jack crevalle, blue runners and bonito are mixed in, as well as sharks. Expect to catch blacktips 50-100 pounds.
Moving inshore, Gross is stalking redfish on shallow flats adjacent to mangroves during high tide. Once the fish are located, Gross is anchoring and chumming with live shiners to get the fish in the mood. Slot and over-slot fish are being caught. Expect to catch snook and trout as well.
Finally, on nearshore structure, Gross is catching keeper-size mangrove snapper. Gross is catching snapper in deep potholes along the grass flats. Live shiners combined with a light leader and small live bait hook are resulting in keeper fish.
Dave Sork at the Anna Maria City Pier is seeing Spanish mackerel, ladyfish, jack crevalle and blue runners being caught throughout the day and into the evening hours. Large schools of threadfin herring and shiners are congregating around the pier, resulting in great action for light tackle fishers. Speck rigs, crappie jigs or silver spoons are getting the bite. If you’re live bait fishing, be sure to use a long shank hook to prevent mackerel from cutting your line.
Mangrove snapper are being caught under the pier. Again, live bait such as shiners or shrimp will get these fish to bite. The snapper around the piers are generally smarter than most so light leaders and small hooks are a good idea. If you need to, add a split shot once the tide starts moving.
Jonny Keyes at Island Discount Tackle says inshore catches remain impressive redfish. Flats fishers are returning to the marina with upper-slot fish and stories of multiple hook-ups. Live shiners are the bait of choice, although as Keyes knows firsthand, artificials are working, too. Keyes catches his redfish on the fly. You can also use Berkley Gulp shrimp or gold spoons if fly-fishing isn’t your forte.
Along the beaches, Keyes is seeing Spanish mackerel, bonito and jack crevalle being caught. Live shiners are producing a bite, as well as artificials such as buck tail jigs and silver spoons. If casting directly from the beach, Keyes recommends a Gotcha plug. These lures are shiny and have some weight to them so you can cast further.
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