Cool change. The first major cold front of the season has come through bringing heat relief and some nice fresh air. We typically get a nice cool snap about a week or so before Halloween. This can and does change fishing conditions and strategies from those of summer.
On the downside. Though the weather is great, it comes with some drawbacks as well. Wind will be a factor now until springtime, and fish already are on the move. Baitfish collection will eventually become extremely difficult.
Simply reds. Redfish have been swarming over almost every oyster bar and mangrove shoreline in Tampa Bay. Large aggregations of fish are roving the flats picking up dinner wherever possible. Try using a piece of cut bait thrown into the thickest mullet school you can find. The results might surprise you. On a recent outing, we crushed the redfish on torn pieces of greenbacks. The dead bait out-fished the live stuff 10 to one. When we cleaned our reds at the end of the day, their stomachs were jammed full of our chum pieces. "Chum and they will come."
Back it up. Backwater areas and residential canals will start to gather late-season snook, redfish and big sheepshead. Live shrimp becomes the bait of choice when the water gets cold. Also, the use of soft plastic jigs can be lethal for catching trout. A slow retrieve works best. Specks bunch up in large groups when it is cool outside.
Return of the macks. Look forward to the seasonal migration of king and Spanish mackerel. They are relatively easy to catch and are delicious smoked, broiled or grilled. Both species are delicious if eaten fresh.
Captain Dave Walker charters out of Tampa and can be reached at (813) 310-6531 or at fishontampabay.com/captains.aspx.