Fishing Report October 18, 2023

Cold front brings relief from heat, new species to target

With the first cold front of the season arriving, you can bet Anna Maria Island anglers are ready to get out on the water without having to deal with the extreme heat they experienced this past summer. 

A slight drop in water temperature is going to trigger a change in the bite as well as the variety of species available to be caught. Migratory species such as Spanish mackerel, kingfish, jack crevalle, bonito and ladyfish will be appearing, which always bring an exciting bite.

Look for bait schools and diving shorebirds to find the fish. These high-speed predators are favorites among many anglers as they provide drag-screaming action and long runs when hooked up. 

And following behind the fish are the sharks. Blacktip, spinner and sandbar sharks love to feed on all species mentioned, so if you’re into hooking into something big make sure to come prepared with some heavy tackle and some wire leader. 

On the flats, snook, trout and redfish should start moving into areas were bait schools flow over the flats during the stronger tides around the full moon. With the vast amounts of glass minnows present these fish may take a little coaxing to get to bite due to the fact that they are gorging themselves on an unlimited amount of food. Be patient and present smaller baits first to see what they want to eat. 

In areas where the baits schools aren’t present you may find the fish more apt to take a larger bait so some experimentation of location and presentation may be needed. 

Lastly, October can bring some intense storms over the water so always keep a watchful eye on the horizon. Thunderstorms can bring sudden gusty winds and waterspouts which are the perfect recipe to ruin a morning of fishing. 

On my Just Reel charters, I am seeing many spotted sea trout being caught on the deeper grass flats of Tampa Bay. Many are just short of keeper-size but we’re managing to put fish in the cooler. 

Snook and redfish are being caught and most action is occurring around mangrove shorelines. 

Lastly Spanish mackerel are a good bet along the beaches and over deep grass.