Flats To Nearshore Report By: Capt. Gary Burch

2017 October Fishing Forecast

The temperature of inshore waters in St. Joseph’s Sound and Clearwater Bay are cooling down. The days are shorter and there’s a lot less sunlight each day.

In October, you can get a downright nasty cold front that drastically drops the temps way below normal and shuts down the fishing for a few days. Hopefully we maintain some type of consistency. Look for our local flats fish to start shifting into their fall patterns. The magic temperature is just below 80.

Redfish will show up in bigger numbers on the usual grass flats all around the bay. On all of my trips this month, I will be in constant look out for schooling redfish. Search flats with grass, sand holes and scattered oyster beds along a mangrove shoreline. Stealth is the way to go when approaching a redfish school.

The best baits for reds in this scenario are sardines, small pinfish and even fresh cut bait works great. If you find schools of redfish, they should remain in that general location of the bay through November.

Trout fishing on the flats will improve in October and get much better next month as the water temp cools further. Trout move into the bays in the fall and winter and supply plenty of action.  Search areas with grassy bottoms in the three to four foot depths.

You may have to cover a lot of ground to find them, but when you do there will be a lot of fish in the school. They can’t resist a well-placed artificial with noise and flash. Get some live shrimp and drift the grass flats on the north side of Dunedin causeway, there should be some trout out there.

Snook are on the move as well, as the water temperatures cool expect these fish to move away from the beaches and passes to fall or pre winter locations. Depending on how cold the weather gets, some snook can be found just inside the passes.

Also explore the spoil islands in the bay and investigate docks and cuts leading into the backwaters. Live white bait may be your ticket to catching the line-siders.

Mackerel and kingfish will be on the menu later in October when the water temperature drops below 75 degrees. Lots of fish will be caught just off the beaches of Sand Key, Johns Pass, St. Pete Beach and along the shipping channels of Tampa Bay. Slow troll blue runners, ladyfish, mackerel or large threadfins in these areas. There are some 40 and 50 pound fish caught every year in these locations.

Fall fishing can be the most exciting time to be out on the water. You can pick your species to target and most of the time you will find and catch them. It doesn’t matter if you are on a boat or at the causeway, there will be fish to catch. Just remember the best part; there are no 95 degree temperatures to worry about!  Enjoy!

Capt. Gary Burch owns and operates All Catch Charters and specializes in live baits and artificials. He guides inshore, flats and backcountry from Clearwater to Tarpon Springs. To reach Capt. Gary for a charter, please call 727 458-6335 or visit his website:

Capt. Gary