Rivers to Bay Report By: Capt. John Rivers

For some, October is known for Halloween, pumpkin patches and falling leaves. But, in the fishing world, October means cooler water temps, shorter days and pumpkin patches; however, our pumpkin patches consist of large schools of redfish throughout Tampa Bay. October is one of my favorite months to fish the Bay. There is so much fishing activity to choose from you almost don’t know where to begin. Should I target redfish, snook or trout? It’s also the start of the kingfish migration along the coast. Bait is plentiful and the tides are still good for fishing with the new and full moon.

October is one of the best months to target redfish in the Bay. They come in from the Gulf of Mexico to feed and spawn. So, in addition to our many resident reds, many more show up starting in September and October.

Redfish can be targeted a variety of ways, whether with live bait or artificial lures and, when it comes to their fight instinct, redfish do not disappoint. Reds over 30 inches are known as bulls and reds under 18 inches are referred to as rat reds. I like fishing for reds on an outgoing tide or at the end of the low tide, as they are usually in a confined area. Just remember to be very stealthy when it comes to redfish, as they can be very spooky.

When using live bait, the two most productive baits I have found are a live pinfish 2 to 3 inches long under a popping cork with the tail trimmed back. Next, would be a small chunk of either cut mullet or a 2 to 3-inch center cut of threadfin on a 2/0 to 3/0 Gamakatsu circle hook with 30-pound leader on a 7-foot medium action Bull Bay rod. Remember that the season is closed on redfish, snook and trout in our region, so take a quick pic and release your fish to be caught another day.

Switching gears to snook, these fierce fighting, jumping saltwater bass are chewing like they did back in April; they are staging for their fall/winter homes. Live pilchards, small cut threadfin or cut mullet are great baits to entice a strike. You can also toss a topwater very early in the morning as the sun is peeking over the horizon.

Speckled trout fishing will start to fire off over the next three months. Trout will be found on the flats in 3 to 6 feet of water; mixed grass flats and sandy pot holes are their stomping grounds. I like using MirrOlure’s 17MR and a Matrix Shad 4-inch paddle tail on a 1/8 to ¼- ounce jig head.

I could write a full page on how good October fishing is but, let me say, just go fishing; you won’t be disappointed. Keep the rods bent and the lines tight.