As we enter November fishing continues to be good with plenty of choices. With the exception of several bad weather days anglers are reporting plenty of activity on the water.
From southern Pine Island Sound to the mouth of the Caloosahatchee River reports have been consistent for a mixed bag including redfish, trout, Spanish mackerel, snook and all the ladyfish you want to catch. Captain Gary Clark is finding redfish up to twenty-three inches on oyster bars and sand holes along with trout and a few snook. Shrimp either fished under a popping cork or rigged on a 1/4 ounce jig head was the bait of choice. Other anglers also found one inch ladyfish steaks fished on bottom a good option for hooking redfish, plus bonus trout up to twenty-two inches. Look for mackerel, trout and ladyfish feeding over grass flats three to seven foot in depth from Red Light Shoals north of the power lines down to the flats around the Sanibel Causeway and Tarpon Bay.
Captain Sean McQuade reports consistent action on a variety of fish around the Barrier Islands and Passes. Working a jig/shrimp combo across sand bottom has turned up catches of redfish, black drum, sheepsheads and an unusual amount of flounder. The best action came on the falling tide around structure.
Bill Forrest & Jim Kocek with a pair of nice redfish caught last saturday. While visiting there friend Joe Petrusha in St. James the trio set aside some time for fishing. Fishing as a cold front arrived they caught snook, trout, flounder and a shark along with the reds while fishing with captain Bill Russell in Charlotte Harbor.
Black drum, Sheepsheads and flounder were also caught from the Sanibel Pier and Blind Pass jetty by shore bound anglers. Shrimp, either live or dead worked best.
On my boat we had two choices for our type of fishing each day. First, fish the open water grass flats where action was non-stop at times for a mix of sea trout, mackerel, bluefish and way too many big ladyfish. When the bite was on it wasn't too difficult to put together a hundred plus fish day in a half days fishing time. We were fishing live bait from north Matlacha Pass around marker 76 around Bokeelia to Bokeelia Shoals. I never keep count of how many fish we catch, frankly if the fishing is that good it's about impossible to keep track, but I had a party that did keep track. Two couples onboard had a man vs. woman wager on who would catch the most fish and the girls were adamant about keeping exact numbers. Well, you guessed it, by the end of the trip the girls had out caught the guys by sixty-two fish to sixty, actually they out fished the men over two consecutive days. You don't think they rubbed it in any do ya?
Second choice was targeting redfish and snook, not the fast pace action of choice number one, but with patience we boated some nice fish. Tossing live pilchards or pinfish in potholes and sand depressions we caught redfish up to twenty-eight inches, snook to thirty, plus some nice trout and flounder. The bite wasn't what I would call hot, but with patience quality fish were caught.
Remember sea trout season closed beginning Nov. 1 and reopens on Jan. 1. There is talk that this may be the last year of a closed season for trout, let's hope next year we can keep a few for dinner in November and December, but for now they are closed. Gag grouper season for recreational anglers is only open for a couple more weeks as it closes down on Nov. 16. If the weather would cooperate there should be some good grouper fishing a short run off our coast to end the season.
For November the weather looks to be off to a mild start, while the waters are cooler there are still plenty of bait fish around. As the water continues to cool shrimp will eventually become the go to bait but for now loading the boat with both shrimp and live pilchards, herrings or pinfish might be your ticket for success on a wide variety of fish. Likewise if you are tossing artificials, try a good selection that imitate both shrimp and bait fish.