Photo: David Embury with Spartan Contracting wins 1st Place Redfish with Capt. Travis Yaeckel in the 10th Annual UF School of Building Construction charity fishing tournament benefitting children’s cancer research and donated his winnings of over $2k back to charity.

By Captain Travis Yaeckel

It seems the colder weather is upon us. As we get through our first cold front of the season, expect the fishing to shift gears as well. After getting through hurricane Irma and the heat of our summer, I think the bay is actually ready for some cooler weather. As of late, the water on most of the South Shore area has been relatively dirty and stained from the higher water temps, rain, and wind. As water temperatures decrease going into fall, we will start to see the water clear-up pretty quick and for any avid fisherman this is great news. Redfish, Snook, and Trout will all be targeted this month as our fishery transitions into the “winter” pattern.

Snook will be making their push to backcountry bays, rivers, canals, and creeks over the next several weeks. Typically, our substantially cold (freezing) weather is still a few months away but during October and November our populations of Snook are on the move. Main tidal areas and funnel points leading into these estuaries are a good place to start targeting them. As mentioned above, the cooler weather will bring clearer water and Snook in particular can get very spooky in certain conditions. Dropping your leader size down to 15lb can sometimes make a big difference in getting a bite. Bait of choice is still a live Pilchard but as the water temp drops a live shrimp will do just fine. With the smaller bait we have had in the bay, a 1/O Mustad circle hook is your best bet.

Redfish are by far my favorite this time of year. Tampa Bay’s miles of shallow grass flats that shoulder deeper channels, provide perfect areas for Redfish schools to thrive. Right now, there are some larger schools of fish throughout the bay. We have been successful in most areas by being patient and a lot of times fishing with cut bait. With the growing population of professional and recreational anglers in our area, I believe our fishery is feeling the pressure. A slower, methodical approach will increase your catch ratio most of the time – especially on a weekend. Pinfish is one of my favorite baits for the Reds. Depending on the area and conditions, live or dead/cut will work great. I will normally increase the size of my hook to at least a 3/O and a lot of times up to a 5/O with the cut baits. Look for fish to school up on the lower tides foraging heavily in shallow water.

Speckled Sea Trout will start to make an appearance this month. Look for congregations on fish staging up in the deeper areas among the grass flats. The larger “gator” trout will start to be seen laying in the super shallow potholes (sandy areas) loading up for winter. Cockroach Bay and Joes Island are a couple nice areas along the South Shore that have some great Trout fishing. Live bait will be the bait of choice: Pilchards if possible but they will gladly take a shrimp or small pinfish also.
Throwing artificial lures is also another great way to find fish. I recommend a 1/4oz Hookup Lures jig head paired with a D.O.A CAL Jig in #313 Gold Glitter.

Captain Travis Yaeckel is a native resident of the SouthShore area and charters full time for Redfish, Snook, Trout, and Tarpon. He is owner and operator of Instinct Fishing Co.,based out of lower Tampa Bay. To book a charter, call 830-FISH or visit Catch him on Tampa Fishing Outfitters Radio Show on Sunday mornings from 8-9 a.m. at 1040 a.m. Sports Talk the Team.