Hello, fellow anglers and fishing enthusiasts! October has arrived, bringing with it exciting surf fishing prospects in beautiful Northeast Florida. In the last few weeks, I’ve caught more redfish than I have hooked onto in the last 3 years combined, which has me really excited about the Running of the Bulls tournament next weekend by the Kids Can Fish Foundation. I know some of you reading this will be there, so please introduce yourself to me when you see me there! Registration is still open for the youth division, so if you have kids 15 and younger, they can still sign up for the tournament. More info about that here: https://www.kidscanfish.net/general-3.
We have been having some very productive fishing trips, and as the fall pompano run starts along with the mullet run that is already in full swing, it’s going to get even more exciting! As the weather cools down, fish become more active along the shoreline. Let's delve into what you can expect this month.
Water Temperature and Weather:
Firstly, let's consider water temperature and weather conditions. In October, the water in Northeast Florida begins to cool off from the summer heat, creating favorable conditions for various fish species to move closer to the shore. Currently we have been seeing water temps in the low 80s, which is bringing more activity than we were seeing last month. Expect water temperatures by the end of October to hover in the low to mid-70s Fahrenheit, perfectly complementing the pleasant autumn weather.
Speaking of weather, October provides delightful conditions for surf fishing. With daytime highs in the 70s and 80s, you'll find early mornings and late evenings particularly enjoyable for your fishing excursions. Keep an eye on local weather forecasts for any changes with thunderstorms, and make sure you are staying ahead of any potential hurricanes heading our way, but overall, you'll have a comfortable environment for your outdoor adventures.
Now, let's turn our attention to bait selection. Choosing the right bait is crucial for a successful day of surf fishing. Here are some top bait choices for October in Northeast Florida:
- Live Shrimp: Shrimp are consistently effective bait options. They are readily available at local bait shops and attract a wide range of fish species, including redfish, speckled trout, and flounder as well as whiting, pompano, and many other species. Lately salted shrimp has been producing really well for me, eliminating my need to stop for bait every single trip. I have a video on YouTube detailing how I make my salted shrimp for those who want to try it out for themselves.
- Cut Mullet: Mullet is a local favorite. Using cut mullet chunks can lure larger predatory fish like redfish and tarpon. You can use a fish finder rig or a heavy sputnik to keep your bait in place.
- Sand Fleas: I’ve still been finding fleas abundance on certain beaches, and the fish have been eating them too. I try to rig them through the little “tail” on their underside that covers the eggs, up through the top shell, and I look for fleas with eggs because the fish see the bright orange and are attracted to it.
- Fishbites: I always have a variety of Fishbites on hand. Lately bright pink shrimp and sandflea have been working well, and if the beach you are fishing has a lot of little purple clam shells laying around, use the periwinkle clam and see what happens! I just caught my personal best redfish a few days ago on our silver pompano rig with periwinkle clam Fishbites paired with salted shrimp!
- Artificial Lures: If you prefer artificial baits, early morning seems to be an ideal time to throw lures in the surf. I was seeing a lot of activity early morning on recent trips, but I’m usually so busy setting up my set rigs that I don’t get a chance to throw them out.
Now, let's discuss strategies. In preparation for the Running of the Bulls tournament, I’ve been talking with many guides and experienced fisherman lately about the best way to target bull redfish for the tournament, and many people have several elements in common, like using live or frozen mullet for bait, 7/0-9/0 circle hooks, and heavier mono or steel leader on a fish finder rig. From personal experience and from what others have told me, you can catch redfish fairly close to the shoreline, especially on high-impact beaches, as they will come into that first trough to feed.
If you aren’t already listening, Brian Demo has a fantastic surf-fishing podcast called the Finding Demo Podcast (https://www.findingdemosurffishing.com) that features a different guest speaker each week. I was recently blessed to be interviewed for this podcast and be listed among the incredibly experienced and skilled anglers he had had on the show. You can pick up a lot of great strategies on his show too.
Hitting the beach in the early morning or later evening still seems to be the best times in October, and you want to get in on that sunrise bite! Make sure you are lining up tides with the type of beach you are fishing to maximize your chances of getting on the fish. Avoid the slack high or low tides, or use those times to rebait, move, or use the restroom as the bite usually slows down.
In conclusion, October promises exciting surf fishing opportunities in Northeast Florida. The cooling water temperatures, a well-chosen bait selection, and strategic surf-fishing techniques will undoubtedly lead to memorable catches this month. So, prepare your gear, head to the beach, and make the most of this fantastic fishing season.
Happy fishing, tight lines, and may your October be filled with angling adventures! 🎣🌊🐟