The Last Mango
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 Capt Tris November - 2009 Fishing Report

Yes, it definitely was a hot October on the Treasure Coast. Record high temperatures were a daily occurrence and I whined about them as much as anyone. Working on my boat in the afternoon sun was absolutely oppressive but wait just a minute! What’s that got to do with fishing? Yep; you’ve got it -  we had the calmest sea conditions in recent memory throughout the entire month. I know, I know, you are thinking ‘so what’, October fishing leaves a whole lot to be desired, and who cares!

Well, ……….this year October’s live bait fishing exceptional. It produced plenty of amberjack and occasional grouper on our Treasure Coast wrecks most of which are located in 100–200 feet of water. Barracuda, always fun to catch on light tackle, were ferocious in recent weeks, eating larger live baits and offshore target species as well. Catches of 20-40lb kingfish by commercial and recreational boats fishing the beach north of Ft Pierce Inlet coincided with an influx of spanish mackerel and jack crevalle near shore.

All this fishing was close to home and provided plenty of action with marginal fuel expense. Summer sailfish were extraordinarily cooperative but scattered from 80’ to 360’ with no clear concentration in any particular depth. (Expect better sail fishing in the months to come). The dolphin bite was spotty, but those with faith trolled up decent catches along weed lines that were ‘there one day and gone the next’. Blind trolling, not a recommended path to success, produced gaffer sized mahi up to 35lbs just offshore of the bar in recent weeks, and this year’s superlative cobia bite continued in October with substantial catches landed by charter boats that were bottom fishing on the offshore bar northeast of Ft Pierce Inlet.

So here’s the deal:  If you have saltwater in your veins and a passion for fishing, there is much to be said for offshore summer trips that provide plenty of action on a range of species. And bottom fishing and slow trolling (or drifting) with live bait just might be your key to success. That miasma of boats you see surrounding the 10 Buoy on Sat morning is there for a reason. They are stocking up on ‘ammo’. Spanish sardines, threadfin herring, cigar minnows and blue runners are all potential live baits, so take your little gold hooks out there in the summer months and join the fray. Bear in mind that there is a learning curve associated with every aspect of live bait fishing. Today’s fortune cookie reads: “Work through it; ask questions at local tackle shop. Benefit thru experimentation & you will catch more fish!”

Although ‘diehard live baiters’ will continue to deploy their greenies throughout the winter, I’m inclined to shift gears and look forward to breaking out a few dozen ballyhoo in the AM and hunting down the temperature breaks, color changes, tidal edges and weed lines that hold fish when cold fronts and windy weather come our way in winter months. Rougher sea conditions are more easily negotiated when trolling along at six or seven knots, so hold that thought about adding live bait fishing to your quiver and be ready to perfect those skills on calm winter days or in the spring.

November fishing should bring the first good catches of both sailfish and dolphin to anglers working offshore waters from 90 feet out. With a taste of cold weather already upon us in late October, expectations of great fishing conditions are the order of the day. Look for a wahoo bite to develop in November. Trolling for wahoo, over structure on the Occulina Bank is an effective approach. Many anglers now prefer high speed trolling for ‘hoos’, but traditional trolling with a planer and skirted split tail mullet will provide good results with less fuel expense.( It’s also a whole lot easier on you and your boat in sloppy sea conditions.) There should be plenty of kingfish on the bar this winter with larger fish lurking closer to shore. And don’t forget the tarpon bite on the beach. If this late October tarpon bite continues thru November, a live well full of mullet will create some serious action close to home. 

Tight Lines,
Capt Tris