Fishing on the edge.[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]
October offers a great time for South anglers to fish the start of the incoming tide in Everglades National Park around Flamingo. The main channel at Snake Bight and the nearby finger channels stack up with baitfish and predators that were forced off the flats during the low tide cycle. Small mullet and pinfish hold along channel edges, waiting for water levels to rise so they can push farther up on the flats, where they are less likely to become a quick meal. Look for redfish, snook, big jacks, tarpon and seatrout blasting unprotected baitfish. Cast a weedless spoon, soft-plastic baitfish, surface plug or bucktail jig--in other words, about anything--in the area of the nervous baitfish and you are likely to get a quick hookup.
Tin Can Channel, not far from Snake Bight, the channels next to Frank and Murray keys, Lake Ingram, and the channel south and east of Sandy Key offer similar action at the beginning of the incoming tide. All of these locations can be found in the Florida Sportsman Everglades Chart No. 012, which covers Flamingo to Lostmans River. Newcomers need to take a good look at the chart and stay inside the marked channels as they learn Flamingo's tidal changes. Keep in mind the wind can greatly affect Florida Bay depths.
Tides push baitfish in and out of the ocean Inlets. Snook, tarpon and big jacks can be seen blasting through the baitfish schools at Port Everglades, Haulover and Government Cut. The combination of strong outgoing tides and rough water around these inlets can result in dangerous conditions, so be careful when fishing these areas.
Offshore anglers are enjoying the first runs of king mackerel. Target the depths just outside the outer reef, where you might also encounter bonito, wahoo, a stray blackfin tuna or sailfish. Watch for frigatebirds and flocks of terns outside--in October the Gulf Steam edge can be very close in, with runs of dolphin. Some of these dolphin are in the 20-pound class.
Amberjack, mutton snapper, black and gag grouper, and an occasional cobia can be targeted over Dade County wrecks. Some of the favorites are the Hydro Atlantic wreck located in 184 feet of water off Deerfield Beach at 26-19.5000'N, 80-03.043'W, Johnny Morris Offshore Angler wreck located in 215 feet off Pompano Beach at 26-14.3827'N, 80-03.4113'W; Joe's Nightmare steel barge located in 217 feet of water off Port Everglades at 26-06.8016'N, 80-04.2248'W; Tenneco Deep wreck located in 190 feet of water off Hallandale at 25-58.890'N, 80-04.798'W, the Nick Comoglio wreck located in 150 feet of water off Haulover Inlet at 25-54.537'N, 80-04.847'W; the South Point Water Tower reef located in 170 feet off Miami at 25-49.492'N, 80-04.839'W; the Star Trek wreck located in 210 feet of water off Key Biscayne at 25-42.002'N, 80-04.653'W.
From Key Biscayne Bay south to Ocean Reef, bonefish and permit, plus barracuda, tarpon, lemon sharks and a few large mutton snapper, can be found over shallow grassflats. During October these temperamental fish may feed throughout the day. Large live shrimp will attract the attention of the bonefish, lemon sharks and mutton snapper; small crabs work for permit, and shiny plugs get the tarpon and barracuda. Try the oceanside flats from Soldier Key to Elliott Key, the flats around Totten Key and the Arsenicker Keys, and the shoreline from Black Point Park south to Card Sound Bridge.
Local freshwater lakes and canals are full of hungry peacock and largemouth bass. Either will eagerly take a small live shiner fished near a bridge or dropoff along a shoreline or wall, or toss them a small plug or Clouser Minnow. Water levels in recreation areas such as Holiday Park, Sawgrass, Alligator Alley and the Tamiami Trail off of SR 41 are rising. Bass are beginning to move onto the flats, but many remain concentrated along shorelines, dams, bridges, culverts and little feeder streams that funnel water into the flats from the canals. Six-inch soft plastic worms, surface plugs and shiners are big favorites among bass fishermen. Shellcrackers, bluegills and brim will be available for live worm fishermen.
Best Bet: SOUTH
King mackerel are migrating south, easy targets for South Florida anglers. These fish are mostly snake kings in the 3- to 5-pound range, but always have a few bigger kingfish traveling with them. Target depths from 80 to 120 feet of water from Port Everglades south to Ocean Reef.
Kingfish will eat metal speed jigs or live baits, or you can keep it simple with dead Spanish sardines or ballyhoo on three 5/0 Mustad hooks in tandem. Add a 1-ounce weight in front of the first hook and a piece of No. 3 copper wire to keep the line from being cut by sharp teeth. Drop these baits 40 to 50 feet down and let the boat slowly drift with the wind and current. When you get your first strike make a mental note of where you are so you can duplicate the same drift once again. Kingfish minimum size is 24 inches from lower jaw to the fork of the tail. Anglers can keep two per person each day.