Visitors returned to the Florida Keys in growing numbers over the course of October, with storm threats minimal and mostly gentle, mild, warm weather that has prevailed into mid-November. Sailfish showed up nonetheless, providing excellent action that has stayed steady through the present. Blackfin tuna, with a few juvenile bluefin tuna from the summer spawn in the Gulf of Mexico thrown in (be sure to carefully release these), have been present in good numbers and biting trolled skirts, deep jigs, and live baits at the seamounts.
Sharks at the Islamorada Hump, however, have been fierce, making it difficult to get tuna or deeper-dwelling amberjacks, Almaco jacks, and snappers to the boat intact. We’ve also had our first packs of wintertime wahoo and king mackerel showing up along the reef edges and around wrecks. Yellowtail snapper action has been outstanding on the outer reef. Back country has generally continued to be excellent for snook and redfish, with good numbers of tarpon around. Spotted seatrout have been more spotty, but abundant when you find the right little areas. Mangrove snappers have moved back into grassy channels and island moats in Florida Bay.
Spanish mackerel are showing up in near Gulf of Mexico waters, heralding the beginning of the light tackle variety fishing so popular in winter months. Those willing to take the time and effort to seek bonefish have been getting steady results. The first cold fronts are finally just making their presence felt, which will trigger the seasonal transition to winter fishing.