© St. Petersburg Times, published October 14, 2002
October is the month of offshore options. When the seas are calm, you can catch practically anything.
Near grouper and amberjack holes, you might come across an anchored shrimp boat with hordes of tuna and bonita gobbling discarded bycatch. Or you might set a live baitfish on a flat line behind the boat and catch a king mackerel while bottom fishing.
Carry plenty of live bait for offshore runs. You can net a bunch of whitebait on the flats or use sabiki rigs to snare blue runners on channel markers and Spanish sardines over hard bottom in 40-50 feet. Using the match-the-hatch logic, you'll do well to catch the indigenous baitfish.
Bonita and Spanish mackerel are inside the Skyway out to Egmont Channel raking bait pods. Look for birds to find the distant pods. This is a great time to engage these feisty fish on the fly rod. Mackerel and bonita are often seen frothing at the surface as they chew through massive schools of glass minnows. Therefore, the best flys are shiny silver patterns.
Recent trips produced four kings 35-45 pounds. All ate live blue runners dropped for amberjack in 150 feet. AJs up to 60 pounds and red grouper to 15 pounds also kept the rods bent.
The rest of this month should offer abundant opportunities, so remain flexible and keep plenty of rods rigged for various scenarios.
-- Mike Whitman charters the Mega Bite out of Gulfport. Call (727) 384-5729 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.