October is a transitional month for offshore fishing. The days are getting shorter and the fish are getting hungrier. Early October can provide some great sea conditions while later in the month the wind will start to blow, and you must pick your days.
Grouper and snapper fishing should be solid. The thermocline and cold upwellings will be gone and the fish will get back into their normal feeding patterns. Look for baitfish on the reefs in 60 and 90 feet and you can bet there will be big fish in the area. Try fishing on top of the reef near bait schools. Don’t be overly concerned about getting right on the ledge. Big predator fish will get out and hunt when they are feeding, and they will find your bait. The important part is using quality bait and presenting it properly, rather than being on the exact spot. Throw fresh chunks of baitfish in the water every couple of minutes to increase your odds. A chum bag is great but, sometimes it can draw sharks and remoras that will drive you crazy. Another advantage of being away from the ledge is that when you hook that big grouper, he will not be able to charge into the deep hole. You’ll have a much better shot at turning him.
The mullet run will be going strong all month. This means there will be solid action close to shore and around Sebastian Inlet. Early October is probably the best month for large tarpon along the beach in our area. Look for them busting big mullets along the beach and throw a large mullet in the melee. Be prepared to start the boat and follow these bruisers if you get hooked solid. Look for big kings in-close as well as other predators around the bait schools. Drifting live baits or a frozen sardine in these areas can produce some great action. Use a circle hook and set the drag tight enough to set the hook when something hits.
Dolphin should be a good bet this month. Trolling a typical dolphin spread in the Gulf Stream will catch fish. As usual, troll around the birds, weed lines and color changes. When the bite slows, one effective trick is to set out a chum bag and wait for the fish to come to you. Turn the engine off around a fishy looking area and put out a chum bag. Be patient and let the chum deploy for the better part of an hour. Drop a couple pieces of chunk bait in the water on a 6/0 circle hook and relax. Keep your eye on the water and have a live bait ready for finicky fish. A piece of single strand wire will catch the occasional wahoo. Watch out for the shrimp boats out in that 130-foot area. The black fins, bonito, cobia, and other predators will swarm around them early in the morning as they release their by-catch. Try chumming with a frozen block or chunks in the general area of the boats to get the bite going again.
Best of luck out there and remember that you can’t catch ’em sitting on the couch! Go make some memories with family and friends.