Where to Fish in October

Find where your favorite species is hiding as fall comes into full swing in North America, the Caribbean, Mexico and more

Salt Water Sportsman guides you through the month of October in search of your favorite saltwater species. These two locations per popular saltwater species offers insight into why the bite is hot and future trends to anticipate.

Pacific Blue Marlin

Pacific blue marlin
Pacific blue marlinIllustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: Ecuador
Second choice: Costa Rica

The fabled stretch between Manta and Salinas, Ecuador, comes into its own this month as forage species congregate, offering multiple shots at blues—some exceeding the 500-pound mark—hunting the drop in the continental shelf, about 25 miles offshore. Meanwhile, the seamounts off Costa Rica’s southern Pacific coast experience a considerable influx of blue marlin of 200 to 300 pounds.

Atlantic Blue Marlin

Atlantic blue marlin
Atlantic blue marlinIllustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: Portugal
Second choice: Brazil

The action remains hot around the Portuguese islands of Madeira and the Azores, where four or more shots a day should be a common occurrence. An increasing number of big blue marlin patrol Brazilian waters this time of year, especially around Royal Charlotte Bank, where a southerly current gathers an abundance of small tuna and bonito just 17 to 20 miles from the town of Canavieiras.

Black Marlin

black marlin
Black marlinIllustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: Australia
Second choice: Costa Rica

It’s time for granders again in Australia as the big girls return to their Great Barrier Reef haunts along the 150-mile stretch between Cairns and Lizard Island. Pay special attention to the Ribbon Reefs, an early-season hotspot. Black marlin in the 250- to 400-pound class are plentiful in Costa Rican waters. The offshore seamounts yield many, but boats out of Quepos, Golfito and Drake Bay also find their share.

White Marlin

White marlin
White marlinIllustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: Brazil
Second choice: Portugal

White marlin numbers soar in October off Vitoria, Brazil, an area known to produce whites of monstrous size, many easily exceeding 100 pounds. Madeira and the Azores are far from one-trick ponies this month as plenty of white marlin compete for congregating forage with much larger blues. Good days are now likely to produce half a dozen white marlin raises or more.

Atlantic Sailfish

Atlantic sailfish

Atlantic Sailfish

Atlantic sailfishIllustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: Florida
Second choice: North Carolina

October ushers in the fall weather pattern to the Sunshine State, sparking an excellent sailfish bite from Fort Pierce down to the Keys. Farther north, the procession of billfish along the mid-Atlantic coast is winding down, but it should still provide some sailfish opportunities, particularly for boats fishing off North Carolina’s Outer Banks, where the Gulf Stream comes closer to shore.;

Pacific Sailfish

Pacific sailfish
Pacific sailfishIllustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: Guatemala
Second choice: Costa Rica

As the weather improves in Guatemala, so do the sailfish release tallies. This month bait also packs into the Pocket, at the tip of the canyon that begins 15 miles off the coast of Iztapa, increasing opportunities to find feeding fish. In Costa Rica, the bite heats up in the south and central stretches of the Pacific coast. Boats out of Golfito, Drake Bay and Quepos are first to cash in.

Striped Marlin

striped marlin
Striped marlinIllustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: Mexico
Second choice: Ecuador

Now is when hordes of hungry stripes typically show up to feast on massive baitfish aggregations in Magdalena Bay, some 150 miles north of Cabo San Lucas, where a number of boats have reported insane release numbers in seasons past. In the Galapagos, three major currents—Humboldt, Panama and Cromwell—turn the surrounding waters into fertile hunting grounds for stripes this time of year.

Wahoo

Wahoo
WahooIllustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: Bahamas
Second choice: Bermuda

October signals the arrival of fall and wahoo season in the Bahamas as large numbers of striped torpedoes converge along drop-offs and over humps. Historically, the bite peaks in Mantanilla, Grand Bahama’s West End, San Salvador and Cat Island first, and then extends to Chub Cay, Abaco, and other areas. In Bermuda, Argus and Challenger banks remain hot producers, especially for boats trolling liveys.

Yellowfin Tuna

yellowfin tuna
Yellowfin tunaIllustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: North Carolina
Second choice: Louisiana

As water cools off North Carolina, schools of 40- to 80-pound yellowfins invade the area. Most boats troll, but some local experts switch to chunking after locating the fish by trolling along current edges. October is when the largest tuna of the year feed around the shallow oil and gas platforms on the continental shelf off Venice, Louisiana. Live hardtails will do, but pogies and herring are best-bet baits.

Bluefin Tuna

bluefin tuna
Bluefin tunaIllustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: Prince Edward Island
Second choice: Massachusetts

Schools of giant bluefins stage off Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, where they aggressively feed to pack on weight in preparation for their annual pilgrimage across the Atlantic. Good numbers, however, remain in Massachusetts waters, primarily around Stellwagen and George’s banks, Jeffreys Ledge and in Cape Cod Bay.

Bonefish

bonefish

Bonefish

BonefishIllustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: Bahamas
Second choice: Florida

October brings mild water temperatures to the Bahamas, keeping schools foraging on shallow flats for as long as the height of the tide allows. Places such as the Abaco Marls, Andros bights, and the many creeks of Grand Bahama’s East End should be loaded with fish. There’s no better time of year to try for bones in the Florida Keys and Biscayne Bay, where the fish are steadily increasing in numbers. ;

Snook

snook
SnookIllustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: Florida
Second choice: Mexico

With fall baitfish migrations underway in Florida, snook will be on the hunt in or near open water, fattening up before winter weather reduces the variety, size and availability of their forage. In Mexico’s Yucatan, some of the year’s largest snook invade Laguna Santa Rosa and neighboring lagoons, and good numbers of small- to medium-size linesiders lurk in the backcountry of Ascension and Espiritu Santo bays.

Tarpon

Tarpon

Tarpon

TarponIllustration by Keilani Rodriguez
First choice: Florida
Second choice: Mexico

Florida resident tarpon aggressively hunt down schools of ladyfish and mullet before winter weather takes over. Inlets, passes, and the mouths of coastal rivers and creeks are ideal ambush points, and so are bridges, especially at night. Action with juvenile silver kings is as good as it gets in the northern Yucatan’s tarpon nurseries this month. Isla Holbox, Rio Lagartos and Campeche should all be productive.

Permit

Permit

Permit

PermitIllustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: Belize
Second choice: Mexico

In Belize, permit fishing is past its prime, but the abundance of fish sprinkled throughout the region keeps the Central American nation atop the list of permit destinations. Expect more tailers down south and cruisers up north. The Yucatan bays—Ascension, Espiritu Santo and Chetumal—still harbor plenty of schools of 8- to 15-pounders, plus enough 20- to 30-pound specimens to keep trophy hunters interested.

Red Drum

red drum
Red DrumIllustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: Louisiana
Second choice: North Carolina

As expected, Louisiana marshes continue to offer the most chances to connect with redfish of all sizes. Expect the slot-size reds inside duck ponds and lake shorelines, and look for bigger fish around the bayou mouths and outer-island banks. In North Carolina, now is a good time to fish for big bull reds as 20- to 40-pounders forage in Pamlico and Albermarle sounds, and up the Neuse River.

Striped Bass

striped bass
Striped bassIllustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: New York
Second choice: New Jersey

With no shortage of forage, Long Island beaches and Montauk rips and structure still hold plenty of stripers, letting anglers using a variety of methods, from fly-fishing to live-baiting, continue to consistently pick off some. As waters cool, some of the fish begin their southbound migration toward Chesapeake Bay, creating ample angling opportunities along the Jersey shore.

Swordfish

swordfish

Swordfish

SwordfishIllustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: Florida
Second choice: Mexico

Drift baits deep during the day or shallower after dark—take your pick. Both methods will produce broadbills in South Florida waters this month, especially if light sticks or strobes are added to the rigs to draw fish to the baits. In Mexico, boats fishing similar tactics in the Yucatan Channel also find success. Crews willing to make the long run from Cancun to Chinchorro Bank often tangle with larger specimens.

King Mackerel

king mackerel
King mackerelIllustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: North Carolina
Second choice: Florida

Smoker kings steadily increase off North Carolina’s Outer Banks. The seasonal abundance of large menhaden, known locally as fatbacks, triggers action from just outside the beaches to wrecks 5 to 15 miles off the coast. In Florida, October is when the big kings take over reefs off Key West, and much of the hard-bottom spots on the Gulf side of the lower Keys.

Bluefish

Bluefish
BluefishIllustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: New Jersey
Second choice: New York

The same places that hold stripers along the New York and New Jersey shores also harbor packs of bluefish on their perennial quest for forage. The trick is locating schooling baitfish along the beaches and near inlets, then casting loud topwaters and flashy spoons and irons to draw strikes from any blues in the vicinity. Expect short-lived intervals of fast and furious action between slow periods.

Dolphin

mahimahi
DolphinIllustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: Hawaii
Second choice: Costa Rica

Mahi hunters in Hawaii find fewer peanuts and grasshoppers, but more slammers, big bulls and cows, this month. Some 50-pounders are caught this time of year on trolling lures intended for marlin. Rainy season sends debris flowing out of coastal rivers in southern Costa Rica and neighboring Panama, creating a multitude of hangouts for traveling dorado, and improving anglers’ chances in the process.