October weather begins the fall cool down and fishing is right up there with April as some of the best of the year. Baitfish can still usually be caught on the beaches this time of year, but will continue to thin as winter approaches. Most tarpon have disappeared by October, but large schools of redfish can be found near the mouth of the Manatee river and on the shallow grass flats of Palma Sola, Emerson, and Terra Ceia. Snook action can be non-stop when the tides and weather are correct as both species are feeding heavily in preparation for winter. Seatrout love the cooler temperatures and can almost always be found around clean, deep seagrass beds and on channel edges. Fishing with live pilchards and shrimp during strong tides will give you the best chance for a fun day of fishing.
Nearshore, gag grouper will begin their winter move to the shallow artificial reefs in Tampa Bay this time of year and a frisky pinfish almost always gets eaten. However, be sure to bring heavy conventional gear or they will be almost impossible to land.
Spanish mackerel, kingfish, cobia, permit, gag grouper, red grouper, mangrove snapper, bonito, barracuda, amberjack, and sharks are all around the offshore scene in October. Look for baitfish schooling over structure and it’s almost guaranteed you will find the majority of these predator species right there with them. The conventional approach is to locate structure, anchor, then begin chumming with chum bags, live pilchards, and cut sardines. This will get an enticing chum slick in the water that will attract nearly everything in its path. Baits on the bottom will produce snapper and grouper while freelined pilchards can get everything else. Try to keep a few crabs or shrimp on board in case permit show up.