November is a month we combine summer and winter fishing together. As cool fronts begin to arrive, our waters are cooling down and fish are transitioning from summer to winter patterns.
Sea trout is the state's most popular inshore game fish and Southwest Florida is no exception; our waters boast some of the best trout fishing in the state. Few would disagree that spotted sea trout are the mainstay of Florida's recreational fishery; they are often referred to as "the people's fish." Unlike redfish, snook, grouper or tarpon, trout are much easier to target for all anglers, and they are great on the table. Trout should be plentiful and feeding heavily on small bait fish, then as we near the end of the month as the water cools, shrimp will become the top bait.
Speaking of redfish and snook, November can be a great month for both if it doesn't get too cold too quick. Snook have vacated their summer homes around the beaches and are relocating throughout the inshore waters. If it remains relatively warm, they may be found feeding over inshore flats, oyster bars, shorelines and sand holes. If it turns cold quick they well seek shelter from the cold in protected areas like canals, rivers and shorelines with deep water.
Snook are on the move. Jim Looney of Cape Coral caught and released this 34-inch snook while pitching live baits around oyster bars in Matlacha Pass with Capt. Bill Russell
The large schools of redfish that prowled the inshore flats over the last few months will move offshore or break up. It's still possible to run into a school, but most reds will be in pairs or small bunches. Look for reds tailing over shallow flats on the lowest tides and hanging in the same areas as snook over higher water.
Gag grouper season is open throughout the month with larger fish moving near shore and inshore. Most anglers target grouper in the gulf waters, but if you find some underwater structure inshore, it could hold some good fish. Docks, piers, bridges or any type of underwater debris are good places to look, and it doesn't have to be very deep. I have caught fish over 30 inches in less than 5 feet of water.
For fast action mackerel, bluefish and jack crevalle are feeding on bait schools, and also expect an increase in species like pompano and sheepshead. Many anglers reported that last month held some of the best pompano fishing in years, and that should continue. As the month wears on and the water gets colder, large sheepshead are moving from offshore to near and inshore. Look for them in the same areas mentioned for grouper, along the beaches and around deeper oyster bars.
As the waters of Southwest Florida continue to cool this month there should be plenty of good fishing to keep anglers busy as fish are on the move and feeding as winter approaches. As we approach the holiday season, there is no better place to be than on the water away from the crowds.
Have a safe week and good fishin'.