October is the time of year most of the country thinks of leaf-peeping and pumpkins. But, it’s our last month of summer here in the Keys!
Snapper fishing was off the chain in August and September, and I’m optimistic it will continue this month. The reef, patch reefs, bay and bridge venues should all produce excellently.
The reef abounds with mangrove, yellowtail and mutton snapper. And, with each passing week we see increased amounts of baitfish pouring in from the north which, in turn, ignites the feeding activity for our resident fish. We will discuss this at length in our November article.
The fishery that really comes to life in October is mangrove snapper and seatrout in Florida Bay. As we get deeper into the month, we will also have keeper size gag grouper.
You’ll find average size mangroves and trout on the grass banks, whereas you’ll need to fish the near-shore wrecks for the larger mangroves and grouper.
Our favorite baits for the snapper and trout are fresh-caught chunked ballyhoo. But, the grouper tend to favor either live ballyhoo or live pinfish.
Lobstering continues to be productive in October. And, with less congestion than during the summer, you a greater chance at success. With this decrease in recreational competition, there’s very little pressure on the fishery other than from the commercial lobstermen, resulting in plenty of lobsters to go around!
The bugs are on the move this time of year in the six- to ten-foot depths in Florida Bay, making them easily accessible for even novices. It takes some practice and patience to perfect the art of tickling them out of their holes, but it’s a lot of fun and the rewards are tasty indeed!
Another venue with increased activity this month is the world-famous Seven Mile Bridge. The primary target here again is mangrove snapper, although you can catch plenty of keeper size yellowtails and muttons here as well.
We fish around the pilings of the Old Seven Mile Bridge with fresh shrimp and small live pinfish. We also begin to find pilchards this time of year. They are the top choice for the largest mangroves and muttons plus the occasional keeper grouper.
Fishing offshore of Marathon during October, we usually get a decent run of nice size dolphin, fish in the 10- to 20-pound range. The run doesn’t last nearly as long as our spring/summer season, but what is lacking in quantity is made up for in quality.
Finally, the Marathon humps typically produce quality tuna in the 10- to 20-pound class during October. Both trolling and run-and-gun style fishing will work.
SeaSquared supports Mote Marine Laboratory’s Protect Our Reefs program
Coral reefs are the foundation of our amazing fisheries and marine environment in the Florida Keys, and we’re privileged to be able to share them with you.
Our coral reef system, the third largest living reef on the planet, helps make every fantastic day of fishing or lobster snorkeling possible.
SeaSquared Charters is dedicated to protecting this precious resource to ensure that our reef will be here for future generations to enjoy. As such, SeaSquared donates $5.00 from every charter to Mote Marine Laboratory’s Protect Our Reefs program to help advance coral reef restoration and conservation efforts. To learn more, please click over to http://www.seasquaredcharters.com/protect-our-reefs/.
SeaSquared Charters Marathon Florida Keys 305-743-5305
Capt. Chris Johnson is a member of the Yamaha National Fishing Team and specializes in offshore, sailfish, reef/wreck, gulf/bay, shark and tarpon fishing. He and his wife, Christy, own and operate SeaSquared Charters out of Porky’s Bayside Restaurant and Marina in Marathon. You can reach them at 305-743-5305, http://SeaSquaredCharters.com and http://Facebook.com/MarathonFishing.