What's hot: October is one of the best months for fishing offshore. Cooler water and an influx of bait trigger feeding frenzies in nearshore waters. Mackerel have moved into the area and are feeding heavily on large schools of juvenile threadfin herring and glass minnows from the swim buoys on the beach to the artificial reefs about 10 miles offshore. There are many techniques for catching mackerel. Trolling spoons and other artificial lures work at 6-8 knots. Anchoring, chumming and deploying live bait work well, too. All rigs should have a trace of wire in front of the hook or lure, because mackerel have large, sharp teeth and will cut through most mono rigs.
Grouper action: Grouper fishing is heating up and will stay hot for the next few months as the water temperature falls into the 70s and triggers many of the fish offshore to move into the bait-rich shallows from just north of John's Pass north to Bayport. Most ledges in depths as shallow as 20 feet will hold these fish. When targeting grouper, don't spend too much time at one spot and make sure to leave fish there. Grouper will migrate through these depths, and if they come across a ledge with no life, they will usually pass by.
Snapper action: Snapper fishing will provide consistent action in depths of 90-140 feet. Yellowtails, mangroves and reds are feeding heavily on most rolloffs and ledges. Live sardines and cigar minnows have produced larger fish, but smaller pieces of sardines will get these fish in a frenzy. Rigs vary with the angler, but the lighter, the better. Smaller hooks and lighter leads are helpful.
Steve Papen charters out of Indian Shores and can be reached at fintasticinc.com or (727) 642-3411.