The weather may be cooling down, but fishing off Mississippi's Gulf Coast is heating up in October. Capt. Jonathan Richardson of Strictly Business Charters out of Point Cadet Marina in Biloxi likes to fish for big king mackerel in October when they come inshore to feed on red minnows.

"Just about every fish that swims in the Gulf of Mexico that's fun to catch and good to eat will be feeding on large schools of red minnows in October," Richardson said. "Even though red-snapper season will be closed, numbers of red snapper also will move inshore at this time of year to feed on the abundant red minnows.

King mackerel

"To catch king mackerel, troll 2-1/2- or 3-1/2-ounce Drone spoons, rigged with a trolling lead or a planer to get the baits down to the king mackerel. I prefer to use No. 2 and No. 3 planers and troll between 6 and 7 knots, depending on the king-mackerel bite.

"I'll use the Sea Witch, a duster-style bait, rigged with 12 inches of wire leader attached to a No. 7/0 hook and a sewed-on ballyhoo because we're expecting to catch 25- to 45-pound king mackerel. Also, we'll catch numbers of Spanish mackerel inshore fishing the same baits we use to catch the redfish.


"If you run to blue water in October, you'll still be able to catch dolphin. However, the dolphin bite won't be as good as it's been during the summer months. The good news is we catch more big bull and cow dolphin this month than during the summer months, sometimes even a 30- to 50-pound dolphin.

"To catch dolphin, I'll run a naked ballyhoo on a No. 7/0 hook and a duster. With overcast skies, I'll use a white duster, and during a bright, sunny day, I'll use brightly colored dusters.


"The wahoo bite also is much better in October than in the summer. During October, the wahoo that weigh from 30 to 70 pounds each move in close to shore. They're a lot of fun to catch. I'll use a skirted lure called a Wahoo Whacker because I can pull this lure to catch fish while moving as fast as 14 knots. A spinner in the back of the Wahoo Whacker resembles the spinner on bass lures. I'll use 50-pound-test main line and 80- to 100-pound-test leader with 144-pound wire.


"Also, October is a productive month for billfish on Mississippi's Coast. I'll fish purple/black Aloha and Black Bart baits around floating platforms, like the Mars, the Ursa, the Moxy and the Lena. I prefer to fish these platforms because they're in much deeper water than many of the nearshore platforms. Not many charter boats go out that far, so the fish don't have nearly as much fishing pressure as they do closer to shore. Also, I like to fish the Bullwinkle and the Brutus platforms.

"I'll pull skipjack tuna, blackfin tuna and bonito when I first begin trolling for marlin. If I don't get any bites, I'll downsize my bait. Using smaller baits, I'll still have a shot at catching a marlin, but also will catch dolphin and wahoo.


"If my customers want to have a lot of fun and put fish in the air, we'll troll for barracuda. These torpedo-shaped fish with razor-sharp teeth put up a good fight, jump out of the water and are a bit scary-looking.

"When fishing for barracuda, we'll pull our baits in closer to the rigs, where we'll have no problems catching barracuda. Most of the barracuda we catch will weigh from 30 to 40 pounds, and definitely will put on a show. Some barracudas even have jumped in my boat.

"This summer, I was trolling from Venice, La., along a rip. A 200-pound yellowfin tuna blew-up on the bait, took a hardtail in its mouth, came over the side of the boat, hit the boat's side and fell back into the water. If that big yellowfin had jumped 6 more inches, it would've landed inside the boat, and we'd have caught a tuna without a hook in its mouth. Never in my life had I seen a tuna do that.

"October is a productive time of year to catch yellowfin while you're fishing deep water for billfish. When we're strictly tuna fishing, we'll look for rips, grass lines and changes in water color, and troll around oil rigs.

"This will be a great month for offshore and nearshore fishing."

To fish with Capt. Jonathan Richardson on Strictly Business Charters, call (228) 209-3995.