October 2017 Fishing Report
This month continues the transition that began last month as we push slowly towards cooler weather. Although it’s still extremely hot during the day, I can feel the difference just before dawn. Before low tides and consistent north winds push our way, it’s time to take advantage of the best redfish angling of the year as the spawn peaks and fish are schooled up throughout the area. We all know how time flies and like most months this one will be over before we know it. For this reason, I’ll try and put in as much time as possible looking for the biggest groups I can find milling just under the surface on any number of my favorite flats. I may run into a snook or spotted sea trout as a by catch; but, it’s the spot tail that I’ll target. Although our redfish fishery is not what it used to be, there’s still nothing quite like setting up on a group of reds. And after, catch and release is standard procedure. Besides the obvious visual experience, there’s another advantage and even one disadvantage to working a group of fish as compared to the singles or doubles we find throughout the year. When grouped up, the fish tend to be a bit more aggressive as they have to compete for food. It’s not unusual to see two or three fish chasing a plug or fly. I’ve even seen fish try to take the plug away from other fish. On the downside, it’s fairly easy to spook or scatter an entire school. All you have to do is alarm one fish and it can mess up the whole bunch. That’s just the nature of schooling fish; I see it with mullet all the time. It’s amazing how quick an entire school can just disappear. Fins and no fences we like to say. Fortunately, there should be groups of fish scattered throughout the bays and sounds that surround Charlotte Harbor. So, no matter where you load or fish from, you shouldn’t have to travel too far. To the north, Lemon Bay can be good and don’t hesitate to look on either side of the intracoastal around Stump Pass. Besides holding fish, I like the fact that it’s an idle zone outside the Intracoastal that means the fish aren’t getting run over all day. This makes a big difference. A little further south, the Placida area around the Boca Grande Causeway just outside the public ramp also holds some good turtle grass flats that can really fish well. On the other side of the causeway, over in Gasparilla Sound, all the flats from outside Gasparilla Marina to down past the Whiddens area and out towards Devilfish Key at the edge of the harbor have potential. I also like to spend time in Pine Island Sound looking around the flats adjacent to the intracoastal in the Useppa and Cabbage Key area. If you like to load at Ponce Park in Punta Gorda, keep an eye out on the bar anywhere from Pirate Harbor down to Buzzard Bay.
For tackle, an eight-weight is a good all around choice. Still light enough to throw steadily, but with enough backbone to handle an oversized redfish. A weight-forward floating line rigged with a nine-foot saltwater leader tapered down to 15 or 20-pound tippet is good. Because there is still plenty of bait, scaled sardines, in the harbor, I’ll stick with baitfish imitation patterns. A 2/0 white and silver Puglisi Peanut Butter is one of my favorites.
Even though it’s prime redfish time; if you’d like, there are plenty of other options. Trout are scattered just about anywhere there is mixed sand and grass in two to three feet. Snook are transitioning and Turtle Bay and the west wall should fish well for catch and release. In addition, tarpon are in the upper harbor and the bridges are prime spots. Lastly, if you’re looking for a mixed bag that might include trout, jacks, spanish mackerel, and maybe even a red, try a drift or two on Cape Haze Point.
Until next month, good tides.