As fall fronts make their way to the area, water temperatures will fall rapidly. Following wind patterns will assist offshore fishermen. As fronts go through the Panhandle we will see winds from the south, and the closer they get the more the winds will switch from the west and finally end up blowing from the north. When winds switch from the east, a trip offshore will produce best. Front fishing is an effective, fast way to a great gag bite. As soon as winds switch to the east, I will target larger structure such as ledges or wrecks in depths of 30-90 feet. These types of spots provide cover for these fish during big waves and a strong current, and if you can get on them before they leave these spots you can have an unbelievable bite. Live bait will outproduce frozen until water temps fall to the mid 60s. Baits such as pinfish, grass grunts, squirrelfish and even Spanish sardines will get the best results. Flatline baits off the stern for a couple of months as cobia, kingfish, and blackfin tuna migrate. This bait should be deployed as soon as the anchor gets tight and should be the last bait brought back in the boat before you leave the spot. Cobia often follow a boat and many times swim right to the boat in search of something to eat.
Steve Papen charters out of Indian Shores and can be reached at (727) 642-3411 and fintasticinc.com.