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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

Updated:

September 9, 2021
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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 marlin Illustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: Costa Rica

Second choice: Ecuador

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The offshore seamounts located 70 to 140 miles off Quepos, Costa Rica, produce the highest number of Pacific blues in the world this time of year. A good day often yields double-digit releases and fish up to 400 pounds. In Ecuador, the fruitful stretch between Manta and Salinas, and waters surrounding the Galapagos Islands heat up this month as blue marlin action in the region reaches its peak.

Atlantic Blue Marlin

Atlantic blue marlin
Atlantic blue marlin Illustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: Brazil

Second choice: Canary Islands

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Now is when currents pushing against renowned Royal Charlotte Bank near Canavieras, Brazil, serve up an abundance of prey, which draws in hungry blues looking for a bonito or tuna meal. While the marlin bite in the Canary Islands begins to slide this month, plenty of blues remain on the hunt around La Gomera, known to reward big-game anglers with  frequent shots at 400- to 800-pounders.

Black Marlin

black marlin
Black marlin Illustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: Australia

Second choice: Costa Rica

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This month is when most of the big ladies are on patrol around Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. Expect the area between Cairns and Lizard Island to be the hotspot for anglers intent on battling a grander. In Costa Rica’s south Pacific coast, the offshore seamounts attract numerous blacks this time of year. The majority of the fish will fall in the 200- to 400-pound range, but a few larger ones are likely to make the scene.

White Marlin

White marlin
White marlin Illustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: Brazil

Second choice: Portugal

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Time for Brazil’s giant whites to show up in droves off the town of Vitoria, famous precisely for the superb white marlin fishing and the incredible size of many specimens. The action often starts at the first drop, some 18 miles offshore. Portugal’s Madeira and Azores islands are also good choices for anglers hoping to battle white marlin in October. The availability of bait this time of year usually sparks a hot bite.

Atlantic Sailfish

Atlantic sailfish
Atlantic sailfish Illustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: Florida

Second choice: North Carolina

Seasonal weather changes and hordes of sails returning from their summer mid-Atlantic haunts make for excellent fishing along Florida’s Atlantic coast, especially from Stuart to Islamorada, where the edge of the Gulf Stream comes closer to shore. North Carolina’s Outer Banks and Crystal Coast also offer reliable sailfishing as groups of southbound fish continue to make their way down, feeding along the way.

Pacific Sailfish

Pacific sailfish
Pacific sailfish Illustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: Guatemala

Second choice: Mexico

Guatemala’s sailfishing is back on track as better conditions and the increasing presence of forage invite more sails to the party. Much of the action takes place in the Pocket, a fabled spot at the tip of a canyon that starts just 15 miles off Iztapa. Waters off Cabo San Lucas, in Mexico’s Baja Peninsula, get an infusion of sailfish this month, adding an exciting option to the reliable striped marlin abundance.

Striped Marlin

striped marlin
Striped marlin Illustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: Mexico

Second choice: Ecuador

This month is synonymous with insane striped marlin fishing in Magdalena Bay, a body of water that opens to the Pacific some 180 miles north of Cabo San Lucas. Thousands of stripes converge in the area for the seasonal baitfish run. In Ecuador, three major currents—the Humboldt, Cromwell and Panama—aggregate an abundance of forage in October, attracting high numbers of striped marlin to the Galapagos.

Wahoo

Wahoo
Wahoo Illustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: Bahamas

Second choice: Bermuda

Peak wahoo season begins in the Bahamas as the striped torpedoes stage along ledges and banks, and over underwater pinnacles. San Salvador, Cat Island, Mantanilla and Grand Bahama’s West End produce best early on, with the bite then spreading to Chub Cay and the Abacos. In Bermuda, the offshore banks of Challenger and Argus are still wahoo central this month, and trolling liveys is a sure bet.

Yellowfin Tuna

yellowfin tuna
Yellowfin tuna Illustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: Bermuda

Second choice: North Carolina

Wahoo aren’t the only species congregating around Bermuda’s Argus and Challenger banks; yellowfin tuna are also around in great numbers, providing plenty of action for boats trolling or chunking the perimeter. As the water cools off North Carolina, schools of 40- to 80-pound yellowfins move in. With the fish constantly on the move, targeting them is a challenge, but looking for bird activity often pays off.

Bonefish

bonefish
Bonefish Illustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: Bahamas

Second choice: Florida

Though mild in the Bahamas, fall weather provides ideal conditions for reliable, all-day bonefishing throughout the islands nation. However, the wind direction and strength still make some spots more productive than others. In South Florida, October is when bonefish are most abundant and active, from Miami’s Biscayne Bay down to Marathon, and from Big Pine Key to the Marquesas.

Snook

snook
Snook Illustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: Florida

Second choice: Costa Rica

Snook in the Sunshine State sit at their favorite ambush spot this month, ready to pounce on passing baitfish. The fall bait run makes inlets, passes, bridges, docks, and mangrove island points and troughs ideal linesider lairs, as long as there’s current and bait moving through. In Costa Rica, calba (fat snook) begin stacking up inside the barras and mouths of Caribbean-side rivers. Jigs and sinking plugs do the trick.

Tarpon

Tarpon
Tarpon Illustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: Florida

Second choice: Costa Rica

Florida’s resident tarpon now congregate in inlets and passes, or adjacent beaches and bays, to take full advantage of the ongoing baitfish migration. This time of year, the fish focus on packing on weight before winter arrives, so use big, live baits like mullet and ladyfish, or lures that imitate them. Costa Rica’s Barra Colorado and Parismina, and the surrounding waters, are also solid options for tarpon in October.

Permit

Permit
Permit Illustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: Belize

Second choice: Florida

The patchy flats surrounding Belize’s atolls are sure producers but, unlike the grass flats spread along the nation’s coastline, where anglers look for permit tailing or pushing a wake, the oceanside fish are often cruising or suspended in 5 to 8 feet of water. In Florida, October is a peak month to target permit in the shallows, from Miami to the lower Keys. Fish the edges of channels and flats during a fast-moving tide.

Red Drum

red drum
Red Drum Illustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: Louisiana

Second choice: North Carolina

October is a transitional month for reds in Louisiana. No shortage of fish, but it could take a little more searching to find more than the sporadic taker. Locating schooling pogies along outer shorelines and the mouths of bayous and passes is a key to success. In North Carolina, bull reds are plentiful and active in Pamlico and Albermarle sounds, as well as the Neuse River. Finding the forage is essential here as well.

Striped Bass

striped bass
Striped bass Illustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: New York

Second choice: New Jersey

With water temperatures dropping and daylight hours decreasing, stripers know it’s time to fatten up for winter. In the Northeast, the abundance of baitfish keeps the fish around and on the feed a while longer. Montauk rips, Long Island Sound reefs, Long Island beaches and the Jersey shore are all proven bass hangouts this time of year, and many of the specimens on the hunt will be trophies.

Swordfish

swordfish
Swordfish Illustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: Florida

Second choice: Mexico

South Florida remains atop the hotspots list for broadbills this month as steep drops and deepwater structure strewn off the coast—from Palm Beach south to the Keys—continue to produce reliable action, as well as some impressive specimens weighing north of 200 pounds. In Mexico, the Yucatan Channel has the depth, structure and forage broadbills require, and boats targeting them experience good results.

King Mackerel

king mackerel
King mackerel Illustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: North Carolina

Second choice: Florida

Smoker kings abound off North Carolina’s Outer Banks this time of year. Slow-trolling big, live menhaden (fatbacks) or blue runners around wrecks 5 to 15 miles offshore, or along the beaches near inlets, should pay big dividends. In Florida, the kingfish bite west of Key West and along the Gulf improves with cooling temps. Troll lures or use sonar to locate the fish, then anchor, chum and free-line liveys.

Bluefish

Bluefish
Bluefish Illustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: New York

Second choice: New Jersey

The same spots that hold stripers along the New York and New Jersey shores this month are also bound to attract bluefish. The beaches and nearby inlets will be prime intercept points and, as with the bass, getting in on the action largely depends on finding schooling baitfish. While live-baiting is the surefire method, casting topwaters or flashy spoons and irons frequently provides the desired results.

Dolphin

mahimahi
Dolphin Illustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: Hawaii

Second choice: Costa Rica

Hawaii’s deep, blue waters continue to host excellent numbers of mahi, many in close proximity to the shoreline, enabling anglers aboard small boats and even kayaks to partake of the excitement. The fleets out of Golfito, Quepos and Los Sueños, Costa Rica, find plenty of dorado around floating debris offshore, but they’ll have to dodge storms and endure a few heavy showers in the process.

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