Fall fishing is definitely in full swing. The bait is here, the mackerel and kingfish are here and the flats are lively. That is normal during October in the bay area.
Bonus species: One fish we usually do not have access to in the fall is red snapper. There are plenty out there, but they are closed to harvest all year except June and July. This year, due to the oil spill in the northern gulf, the National Marine Fisheries Service determined that the recreational quota has not been caught and opened the season on red snapper Fridays through Sundays in October and November.
Run deep: Fair weather has allowed us to run 50 miles off Tarpon Springs for the past few weekends, and the bottom fishing has been outstanding. Limit catches of red snapper up to 17 pounds have been the norm, and the grouper and mangrove snapper have also been biting. For the bigger red snapper, 100 feet seems to be the magic number. Inside that there are lots of fish, but not as many over 10 pounds.
Rig right: We have been experimenting with different rigs lately and found that a "chicken rig" has been the top producer of red snapper and has also been a favorite of delicious scamp. This rig is simply two circle hooks tied directly to the mainline with a sinker tied below them. This keeps two baits hanging vertically above the bottom. The bigger grouper have come on the more traditional sliding sinker rig.
Ed Walker charters out of Tarpon Springs and can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 944-3474