King mackerel will take center stage this month as the cold fronts from the north make their way into the Gulf waters. These fronts will cool water temperatures to accommodate the large schools of mackerel and kings that will follow their route to the Keys for the winter. The "front runners" of the migration are headed our way. This wave of fish will have many of the larger females that will feed heavily on their way south. Look in areas such as the Shipping Channel, the beach and areas like Sand Key Hardbottom for these larger fish to be feeding on ladyfish, Spanish mackerel, and mullet. Red grouper fishing continues to be best in depths over 100 feet. Look for these fish to be making their way east after a few cold fronts move through. Live bait is still key but as waters cool these fish will switch to other offerings that donít require much energy to capture. Gag grouper will remain a bit finicky until water temps cool into the mid to low 70s. You can find one here and there if you target the ledges and rock piles in the 60- 120-foot depths with large live baits. If you get the weather window you will also find these fish feeding in depths of 240 feet or more. Snapper fishing has been outstanding in most depths but the larger structures in 90-120 feet are holding great numbers of snapper in the 3- to 5-pound range. Recently while offshore on a ledge in 95 feet, a variety of baits on 30 pounds brought no results. After a quick re-rig we lightened the rigs to 20 pounds and started catching mangrove and yellowtail snapper.
Steve Papen charters out of Indian Shores and can be reached at (727) 642-3411 and fintasticinc.com.