My anticipation of winter trout fishing is almost impossible to camouflage as November rolls in. I am getting as jittery as a hummingbird that has just finished off a pot of Capt. Billy Sandifer's coffee. Some early season big trout and even a Baffin tarpon have already come to hand to get the heart rate up. Folks, it is starting out good.
November is the true kickoff month for all good things to come to the men and women that are willing to brave Mother Nature's mood swings. The water temperature has to drop, plain and simple. To get that to happen, we are going to have to withstand some mighty frontal passages that will keep even the most experienced off of the water for a day or two. Behind these fronts will be days of ideal conditions that will allow water temperatures to fall into that magical range that make large trout sensors snap into feed mode. Really, it is not just a feed mode, it is more like an attempt to gorge themselves on anything that they can swallow to build up winter reserves for much cooler temperatures to come. In an instant, we will start to notice that the trout have bellies resembling footballs and have shoulders like Rosie O'Donnell.
Depending on water temperatures, November can still be a transition month down here on the Upper Laguna and in Baffin. Just because it may have cooled off, don't be leaving the boat ramp at 4:00 a.m. to be the first of twenty boats to line up at Cat Head. A few of the traditional spots may be showing some signs of life, but the biggest part of the fish, and catching for that matter, will be on the fringes of their favored staging areas for nighttime feeding. Deep dropoffs in the Laguna and Baffin are key areas for my clients and myself as we stalk the big trout that are getting ready to go into full-on winter mode.
If you want to stay away from other fishermen, a little outside of the box thinking will bring you some solitude and quality catching during November. Focusing on deep guts that run through spoil islands is a good start. Spoil islands that have deep dropoffs versus slow tapers are also great focus areas. If you happen to locate the guts and drops that have grass growing on the floor, you are really doing yourself some good. One of the most underutilized structures in the Upper Laguna for the trout grinders is the natural gut known as Emmord's Hole. The broken, grassy edges of the this natural contour line will be jammed up with quality fishing in November; however, some of it has to be done out of the boat, as it too deep to wade in most areas. On that same line of thought, the grassy dropoff known as Rocky Slough offers a very similar scenario, and should be a big-time producer. For the brave, you can wade Rocky Slough, but it is a tricky wade considering all of the obstacles (rocks) that you have to weave your way through. Guess it just depends how bad you want it. The Power-Pole and Minn Kota is a very viable option here. For those of you who must wade (don't blame you), I would consider areas like Big Grassy, the Badlands, the natural gut in the Meadows, Compuerta Pass, and the spoil islands in the Upper Laguna. Any and all of these areas have the potential to be big time producers in November, but they are not all going to be good every day. A huge part of being successful is taking the time to scout, using the appropriate lure for the conditions at hand, and having a food supply to keep the trout in the area.
My favorite scouting lures are the 5" Bass Assassin (rat tail) and their Turbo Shad line. My go-to topwater will be the She Dog by MirrOlure. These two lures find fish fast, and big trout just love to eat them, so it is a win-win for me. I like to choose the color according to water clarity and food source in the area. As a general rule, I stay as natural as possible in the real clean water, and go to darker and brighter colors as the water clarity decreases.
"A scrambled egg is just an egg until you mix up all the parts and cook it."
Set 'em loose. -Capt. David Rowsey