As October unfolds on the west central side of Florida, the gradual shift in weather patterns becomes more pronounced, bringing daytime temperatures ranging from the mid-70s to the low 80s. Mild conditions persist, offering anglers optimal opportunities to observe the strategic movements of the local fishery. Low tides occurring in the morning and the changing seasons are adding unique dimensions to the fishing dynamics.With the days getting shorter and continued cooling of water temperatures, the target species are adapting to shifts in their environment. Exceptional water clarity prevails in most places, allowing for precise visual targeting using fly fishing and artificial presentations. Understanding the nuances of tidal movements remains crucial in locating and engaging with snook, redfish, and spotted sea trout during this transitional period.
The seasonal transition prompts snook to move to their winter homes along mangrove shorelines and channels adjacent to deeper water. With cold fronts becoming more consistent, dropping temperatures affect metabolic rates and snook have to adjust their feeding patterns. Pre-frontal conditions can be highly productive. Anglers targeting snook have found success using white or chartreuse weightless flies that allow for a soft and close presentation.
Low morning tides continue to influence the behavior of redfish, prompting them to actively feed early in the morning. Gold spoons and natural-colored soft plastics remain effective along with delicate presentations of shrimp and baitfish patterns. Understanding the changing food sources due to dropping temperatures is crucial for fly anglers seeking success during the transition.
As water temperatures cool, spotted sea trout exhibit consistent activity over expansive grass flats, hard bottoms, and in deeper depressions. Anglers employing artificial shrimp imitations and soft plastic jerkbaits, strategically worked through potholes and along drop-offs during incoming tides, are mimicking the shifting prey patterns of the sea trout.
As the seasons change and water temperatures drop, the dynamics of inshore fishing evolve. The transition of snook to their winter homes, coupled with changes in primary food sources, adds complexity to the angling experience. Adaptation to these shifts, along with refined techniques, is key to continued success in targeting the diverse trio of snook, redfish, and spotted sea trout.
West Central Florida Restorative
Fishing in and around Tampa bay has been on the decline for the past couple years following the red tide in 2021. It used to be a common occurrence to see a group of a hundred redfish and now I feel lucky to see ten together. Unfortunately, after 3 millions pounds of fish were removed and a small 6 month closure, everything was reopened as if nothing happened. Now we’re paying the price and nothing in the bay area appears to be improving.
West central Florida is in trouble after a red tide that took a toll that none of us have ever seen. The red tide was so thick in some areas that it would prevent sunlight from reaching the floor therefore killing the sea grass. An algae bloom of this magnitude took such a toll that it impacted fish stocks from Sarasota bay all the way up to Tarpon Springs and all of Tampa Bay. Recovery time is a necessity for the preservation of our resource and with a re-open to harvest all inshore species, it won’t be possible.
The red tide in 2018 created by the blue-green algae dump out of the Caloosahatchee river from Lake Okeechobee was/is a catastrophic event. Following the event, FWC closed the harvest of any inshore species for what seemed like 5 years. This gave the ecosystem a chance to rebound/recover and the fishery now is doing better because of the closure. There is without a doubt, a larger problem at hand, being water quality and the whole state is feeling it. Let’s let nature do her thing.
Please SHARE and SIGN. The next FWC Commission meeting is 2/21 and 2/22/23 location TBD.