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On the Water: Cooling temperatures will bring good fishing

October 31, 2018
By Capt. Bill Russell , Pine Island Eagle

As the waters of South-west Florida continue to cool this month there should be plenty of good fishing and great weather to keep anglers busy. With the change of season, migratory fish and a large amounts of bait fish are moving south through our waters. Along with our resident species, we also have the possibility of hooking into a host of other game fish.

Often a variety of fish are ganged up on the same bait pod, and it's common to catch a half dozen or more different species to-gether. It's possible to en-counter anything from Spanish and king mackerel to cobia and tarpon together. Keep a variety of rods rigged and ready for any opportunity that may present.

Offshore, look for bait balls from just a few feet off the beaches out into the Gulf about as far as you dare to travel. The past few weeks anglers reported good numbers of tarpon and other fish harassing bait pods a short distance off the beaches of Sanibel. Birds are the best indicator to locate the schools: watch for terns, gulls or other birds grouped up and dipping to the water.

Article Photos

Good day offshore
Jim Robert-son and his gang of fishing buddies had a good haul with a variety
of fish including grouper, snapper, porgy and others. They were fishing 20 miles west of Boca Grande with Capt. Sean McQuade.


Inshore, look for the same key signs as offshore in open water areas. Along shorelines and shallower water, you are likely to notice raining or nervous bait, often with fish busting them at the surface. This is where you can expect to catch snook, redfish, snapper and some big trout. Don't ignore mullet schools ... there is almost always something hungry and often big either mixed in or hanging around the peri-meter of the schools. Large trout and redfish look for food flushed out from the schooling mullet, and there is always the possibility of a large shark or two cruising around the perimeter of the schools, often in only a few feet of water.

November can be a great month for targeting redfish and snook. If it remains relatively warm, they may be found feeding over inshore flats, oyster bars, shorelines and sand holes. If it turns cold quick, they will seek shelter from the cold in protected areas like canals, rivers and shorelines with deep water. The large schools of redfish that prowled the inshore flats over the last few months will move offshore or break up. It's still possible to run into a school, but most reds will be in pairs or small bunches. Look for reds tailing over shallow flats on the lowest tides and in the same areas as previously mentioned for snook. Due to the summer red tide outbreaks and fish kills, snook and redfish season in Southwest Florida is currently closed, they are catch and release only.

Possibly the best fishing of the month for fun and action is to locate the previous mentioned bait schools with a mix of hungry fish including Spanish mackerel, bluefish, sharks, ladyfish, sea trout and jack crevalle feeding. As the month wears on and the water gets cooler, large sheepshead are on the move from offshore to near and inshore. Target them with small crustaceans; shrimp is the most popular and readily available. Chances are good you may also hook into black drum, pompano and permit as these species diet consist primarily of crustaceans.

As the waters of Southwest Florida continue to cool this month there should be plenty of good fishing to keep anglers busy. As we exit hurricane season and approach the holiday or "busy" season, there is no better place to be than on the water away from the crowds and traffic.

If you have a fishing report or for charter information, please contact us at 239-283-7960, via the Website or email

Have a safe week and good fishin'.

As a native of Pine Island, Capt. Bill Russell has spent his entire life fishing and learning the waters surrounding Pine Island and as a professional fishing guide for the past 18 years.



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