Timing is everything when it comes to turning fishing into catching. You can be in the right spot, but if they’re not eating, all you are likely to gain for your effort is frustration. Throw anything you like, if they’re not eating they’re not going to bite.
Two factors that I have observed to have the greatest effect on feeding behavior are local weather conditions and the moon. Understanding these can help you predict the where and when to focus fishing efforts. I highly suggest you read up on the science of the lunar influence to enable you to become a better fisherman, or to at least have an idea of what's going on around you.
I mentioned weather because November is a month of weather transitions that span between fair and mild to almost wintry. We will probably get several significant cold fronts this month and these begin to set the stage for the colder months ahead.
The weather will influence the depth of water fish will stage in according to the prevailing tides, wind conditions, and water temperatures. Fish will move frequently as these conditions change during the month.
Years of observation have taught me that sometime around Thanksgiving the water temperature will drop below 71° – my personal threshold for the end of wet-wading and donning waders. I have been waiting anxiously for this and look forward to dressing in my Simms waders each morning. Some may have other opinions, all I can say is they need to invest in Simms waders if theirs are uncomfortable to wear all day.
The cooler weather will spark more frequent feeding and they will feed for longer periods when they do. This is normal as all of nature begins to prepare for the coming colder season. What does all this mean for fishermen? It basically means that all types of lures will be in play during November. Soft plastics, suspending baits, and topwaters all get hammered with aggression when the fish are gorging!
Redfish numbers have improved of late and we are finding them in more areas than in previous months. In warmer months redfish tend to roam the shallows until the sun gets high, at which time they pull down into deeper and more comfortable water. November is different; reds will stay shallow longer and the month’s more frequent cloud cover allows us to stalk much closer for better sightcasting. Mullet begin replacing shrimp and crabs as the primary food source, so keying of schools and rafts of active baitfish is a good strategy for finding redfish. November has earned a well-deserved reputation for plentiful redfish action.
Trout fishing remains the primary focus of our trips with plenty of action in the majority of the places we have been targeting. I must say we have an abundance of little fish throughout our bay system, and with the recent ending of the busy summer fishing season, it's currently challenging to find quality trout in the 21- to 26-inch class. Either they are too short, or in some cases, too long to keep.
Looking at the positive, we are catching at least one trout per week that measures in the upper-20s. Most of our better trout catches continue to be made over sandy bottoms with grass and scattered potholes, and also along the edges of the ICW.
I mentioned in the first paragraph that timing is critical when waiting for fish to bite, and that has certainly been the case when targeting trout lately. On many trips, we have found ourselves revisiting areas we fished earlier in the day but couldn't get a bite to speak of, only to return later in the day and get on a decent bite as we took advantage of a moving tide.
The prevailing depth for finding good numbers has been thigh to waist deep while throwing a soft plastic such as the KWiggler Ball Tail Shad in plum with chartreuse or a Willow Tail Shad in Mansfield Margarita bounced along the bottom. Looking forward to the water temperatures dropping very soon to trigger the bite we’ve been waiting so long to enjoy.
I expect snook action on the flats and along the beaches will be over very shortly as they are quick to begin moving toward deeper water at the first sign of declining water temperatures. Gone will be the thrill of the silver linesiders but we’ll soon be seeing greatly increased flounder landings to take their place. Fishing in November can be the stuff of legend; get it while you can and have a Happy Thanksgiving!