Key West Pro Guides - Flats/Back Country Report - October 2020
By: Capt. Paul Tryon
October is here bringing cooler water temperatures, improving our action for the Key West angler. From the Flats and Back Country, Near Shore out to the Reef & Ship Wreck sites to the Blue Waters Offshore the overall population and wide variety of sport fish and predator species in our local waters now offers the light tackle angler so many options…
October Weather Averages:
Air Temperature 85/76
Rain Days 11
Wind 10 MPH Back Country:
Always a fun and productive trip the back country this time of year also offers an abundance of visible marine life and tropical birds on the Mangrove Island shorelines with mirror calm, crystal clear waters. The overall population of fish in the back country remains large with several sport fish species, edible fish, and predators to target. A perfect trip for the hard core light tackle angler that enjoys “sight casting” to fish to the novice angler or the family or groups numbering up to 4 anglers looking for non-technical yet fast paced action. The 1/2 day to 3/4 day morning departure trips continue to produce well however the afternoon water temperatures are not as high now so the later part of the day with good tides can be awesome. Permit can be pursued on the shallow patch reef and isolated shallow wrecks to the west of Key West and the bite is good on quality size fish most days. Snook on the given day continue near the Mangrove Island shorelines and deeper channel edges, jetties, etc. and we would place them in the "good" range. Cobia fishing continues again in the "good range". This is a time of fast paced "excellent" action from the schools of BIG Jacks including some huge Yellow Jacks which continue to be red hot with the larger fish going north of 25 pounds…an absolute blast on light tackle and top water! Towards the end of October we should see the ramping up of both Redfish and Trout fishing. These along with the schools of Pompano are the first of the fall, cooler water temperature, species to signal the transition from summer time angling.
The Mangrove and Yellow Tail Snapper fishing remains excellent in the back country. For serious "table fare" harvest we always recommend the reef & wreck trips but to include a few fish for lunch or dinner this is never a problem in our shallows. The outstanding predator fishing continues. Giant Barracuda and several species of Sharks in the shallows are on the hit list. Our Monster Shark charters are awesome and continually produce multiple larger sharks even on the 1/2 day trips. This is predator time! These aggressive species are always ready to go “head to head” so you adrenaline junkies out there could be sight casting top water lures to cruising Barracuda! The Bonefish population in the back country can provide some fun on the deeper flats especially to the west of the island, and we should continue to enjoy this bonus back country action for all of October before slowing somewhat. For the serious Bonefish angler the flats are still your trip but to include the possibility of Bonefish on the back country trips for a while yet is reasonable. We "highly recommend" a back country charter this time of year and especially for those guests looking for a shorter than full day trip. Note...if you have fly fishing in mind...head to the flats, we do not recommend hard core fly trips from our bay boats.
Tarpon time is over in the back country as the migration away from Key West of adult fish has taken place. Remaining is our resident population of primarily juvenile Tarpon and these fish are super sensitive to changing conditions and become very "hit or miss". Some Tarpon are still here but we typically do not target them now! Consider a Tarpon in October as a wonderful "bonus" fish.
October Back Country Species:
Bonefish—Good (primarily a flats species)
Grouper—Excellent (we take a very limited number of Grouper for harvest from the marine sanctuary areas of our back country---for a quantity of Grouper we suggest a reef & wreck charter)
Redfish—(slow but improving towards end of October)
Snapper—Good (Mangrove & Yellow Tail primarily w/Mutton slow)
Bonefish continue to provide excitement for the patient angler willing to work for his prey. The Bonefish action during all of October can produce quality size fish ranging from 4 to 8 pounds and occasionally larger yet but the number of fish may be slowing. Permit typically will provide another 30 days or more with good results on the flats but the Permit is always more abundant in slightly deeper waters of our back country in October. The flats angler should absolutely include Barracuda and sharks on his hit list as well. Just a remainder that we provide a true "flats fishing experience" and this should not be confused with the back country fishing. These are two totally different experiences and if you are unsure of the differences call us at 866 259 4205 for more insights. If Bonefish are on your angling "bucket list" this is a good time to book your trip with one of our legendary flats guides. Fly fishers...flats is where you need to be in October.
October Flats Species:
This is a time of still warm but falling water temperatures, so good fishing conditions continue, friends. We still recommend fishing early morning trips as the most productive over the later afternoon hours for the serious angler. The PM half day trips can be quite enjoyable especially for those people just looking to stay in calm waters and enjoy a fun few hours catching fish. Reef trips in the afternoon fishing slightly deeper waters along with the patch reefs can be very good trips. Sharks are plentiful now and active in the shallow waters of our back country. Pursuing these heavy weight monsters on light tackle is challenging to say the least and talk about something you cannot do at home! Black Tip, Lemon and at times Bull are the more common of the several sharks cruising the shallows. Shark fishing in the shallows will provide you with memories of a lifetime. Are you up for it? Let's go Fishing! Call Key West Pro Guides today to book your charter 866 259 4205 daily 7 AM to 9 PM. We look forward to your call!
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