It’s October, and the fall has still not set in yet here in the Florida Keys. It still feels like summer with highs in the low 90s in the Lows in the 80s.
What a great time of the year to fish.
With less boats out of the water and less people in the Keys in general, you’re not likely to fish right next to someone. October is a great time of the year to get many species of fish because new fish are migrating in and the fish that are here are still here.
So let’s do a little recap on what happened this month.
Offshore fishing this time of year is still pretty good for dolphins, tuna, as well as getting into some sail fishing and wahoo. Typically this time year, the fish are a lot closer to shore and much easier to reach. So it’s a snap to run out to the reef and catch a box full of snapper and then continue on and do a little offshore fishing and top off your cooler with some Mahi-mahi.
The Kingdom of Queen Snapper
If you do venture out a little further, this is the time of the year where queen snapper start to move in. A snapper a lot of people are not familiar with, the queen snapper is a bright red fish that is typically caught from 600 feet to 900 feet deep with electric fishing reels. It’s probably one of the most fun fish to catch on the electric reels.
We have here off Marathon some of the world’s best and biggest queen snappers. The minimum size length on a Queen snapper is 12 inches. I have never caught one under 10 pounds which is around 30 inches in length. The table quality of these snappers is unbelievable. With thick, white, firm fillets they quickly become a fisherman’s favorite snapper to eat.
The Deep Wrecks
There is been plenty of action on the wrecks this month. While not many mutton snappers have been caught, there are still plenty of sportfish and rod-bending action to be had on the deeper wrecks. With Jack Crevalles, amberjacks, almaco jacks, and sharks it’s still a lot of fun to put a live bait down 150 – 180 feet to the bottom and see what’s hungry.
While fishing for the groin bruisers, it’s also good to put down a third line and top off your snapper limit with Vermillion snapper.
Vermillion snapper are like a deepwater yellowtail snapper. What beautiful white fillets these fish have on their sides. When you hook three or four at a time they can put up quite a fight.
With the water still being warm like summertime water, the yellowtail snapper are still out in much deeper water. In the 80 to 90 foot range is where the big boys live. With the biggest yellowtail reaching just over 29 inches in length and an average of 20 to 22 inches, that totals up to a lot of meat really quick.
Fishing in deeper water for the yellowtail snapper takes a little longer to get them chummed up and feeding right but not having to measure any of your fish because they are way over the size limit makes it very nice and worth the wait.
While you’re fishing for yellowtail on the reef it is always a great idea to have a rod down for the grouper.
With a big live bait on, that might be what it takes to get that big old black grouper to feel just a little hungry and make his last mistake.
This time of year is where the Gulf really starts to liven up. The water is starting to cool down just a little and the mangrove snappers, cobia, African pompano, mackerel, Goliath grouper, gag grouper, red Grouper, and sharks really start to come alive.
The Far Wrecks: A Great Place to be Fishing
Fishing the far gulf wrecks is always an action-packed time. From light tackle to heavy tackle there’s a fish out there to match what you want to get done. So if you’re looking to load the cooler full of fish, it’s a great place to be. If you’re looking to bend the rod and test your strength, it’s a great place to be. If you’ve got kids that you need to keep busy catching a lot of fish thats hard fighting, it’s a great place to be. If the wind’s blowing and it looks like it might be a day of rough seas, the Gulf is a great place to be.