I consider the month of October as being one of the best fishing months for both fish and fishermen!
The reason being is all fish both inshore and offshore are in full migration mode.
With water temperatures on the fall the red fish, spotted sea trout, and flounder bite gets more predictable. Places where you caught them last year most likely will be a great place to start. And if you don’t find your fish in your old spots try giving those areas down or upriver a try. Best fall bait is going to be live shrimp fished anyway you care to deliver. The best news is once you get the bite going switching to artificial shrimp patterns or finger mullet is going to be very strong options.
Inshore fishermen get to experience the big bull red fish migration, which starts taking place this month. These monsters start their migration pattern from where they have been holding in the creeks, rivers, and upper sound areas. Once making way to the sounds (closer to the ocean) this is a fish that finds a suitable place to “bulk up” before making way to the beachfronts and then to the ocean. Schooling baits such as mullet and menhaden provide much feeding opportunity for these fish. So therefore where you see any surface action stop, wait, and look for any turbulence underwater feeding or seabirds in a heavy feeding or holding pattern. Another place to look as well as fish are areas where currents come together forming some sort of a rip. Now not all rips will hold the interest of fish, but I can guarantee you once you figure out what to look for “instance hook ups” can happen. Here are a few suggestions: Always looks for any surface oils sometimes referred to as cat paws. If there is any bird feeding action always check out the size and type of the seabirds. If it’s pelicans only what you most likely have down under is schools of menhaden. However, if you have pelicans as well as other small sea birds then you have a possible big feeding frenzy going on down under! This would be your sign to “fish here!”
Best baits to use for big bulls reds when anchored in areas around live oyster beds I suggest using small adjustable floats with about 12 inches of 30 to 40 pound test fluorocarbon leader with either semi circle or a standard 2/0 to 3/0 Kahle style hook. Best baits for this rig are going to be lip hooked live mullet or peanut menhaden or live shrimp hooked up under the horn. If live bait isn’t an option there are plenty other baits that will work such as dead old or fresh smelly mullet cut in steaks like a loaf of bread or air dried shrimp with “heads on or off” threaded onto the hook. When working rips or actual feeding schools of red fish I suggest using diamond shape jigs (1 to 3 ounces) with or without red or green or yellow miniature tube lures.
Jigs such as the 1 to 3 ounce Shimano Butterfly with double hooks located at the head of the lure are good to go. Please know that it has come to our attention (and also the fish’s) that most of the big and non brand names of jigs with hook or hooks attached to the head do work! All of this boils down to location and the working of the lure used!
When it comes to offshore fishing during October lots of different bites can happen in the most unusual places. The reason being is that this is the month where fish start their fall migration patterns. With moving on their minds all fish have to bulk up as fast as they can, which boils down to major feeding times all of the time. Nearshore artificial reefs and natural live bottom areas will start holding the attentions of lots of different size bottom and top water fish. For those fishermen that want to get some big bottom fish action I suggest filling the live well before reaching the fishing grounds. The best place to stop to load up on bait is wrecks located at the artificial reefs in 55 feet plus of water. However, our bait populations in these areas have not been too good so far this year, which has been the norm for a while. I still suggest stopping and giving it a try, because it is on your way.
Spanish sardines and cigar minnows usually school up over any sort of high relief structure. Please know that most of the yellow buoys marking the offshore artificial reefs are gone. (Have been for years and they are not replacing them!) These buoys held the interest of all types and sizes of bait fish. Now here’s a well kept secret. The locations where the buoys used to be anchored are still holding bait.
The anchoring system used on the buoys is still there and so are the types of baits that used to school around the chain. Check this out you might be catching surprised.
Capt. Judy Helmey is a local charter boat captain. She can be reached at 912-897-4921 or Fishjudy2@aol. com.