CONDITIONS: Thanksgiving week comes replete with the season’s first temperature drop. If the forecasts are accurate, the air temp will plummet over ten degrees post weekend……mornings will be in the mid 50’s but the warmth will return during the day and we’ll be back to toasty late afternoons. For fishing that overnight chill down will also chill down the water. Those 66 degree water temperatures will drop to circa 62. And since we are in what the rest of the world calls winter, we will see action from that sector of the fish population that cherishes the cold. We will also see some additional windy periods which will have a tendency to churn up the waters and add some difficulty to visibility especially in the shallow backwaters. The tides come off a new moon early week and sport a early morning low tide and then a fast rising incoming tide. Will be an exciting week with a holiday crowd thrown in for good measure.
BACKWATER: The cool down should provoke some long awaited action from some larger winter species i.e. sheepshead and black drum. Being both cold water activists, we should begin to see the more mature members of both species as the water chills down. They are both bottom or near bottom feeders……so first, above all else, make sure you rig your baits to work in the that zone…..on the bottom or just above where their food is available. Sheepshead particularity love barnacles …their jaws and teeth are made for that action. So, working a dock or a series of bottom structures that have naturally accumulated these underwater growths puts you in the drivers seat. Tease them with baits dropped to the bottom and worked slowly on a soft lift technique on either tide. Best baits that are readily available are “store bought” live shrimp or easily captured fiddler crabs scooped up along the beaches. Just a tad will do as a bait worked tight to the bottom with a vertical lift. The black drum, which has the same muted black and white vertical stripe markings, are in the same feeding domains but move a lot more cautious to the bite. Once on, however, you’ll know you’ve got something special aboard with a much tougher fight and larger size than most sheepshead. These are a most desirable take home species. Cousins of the revered redfish, they produce the same delicious filet baked or blackened. Other cold water species that may show this week is the silver trout and whiting. These are medium size fish that will school in deeper cuts just off the beaches or along the waterways and are very active taking tipped jigs in a good moving current. Both species are great table fare and the best feature is there is no size limit and an astronomical bag limit that is seldom reached.
NEARSHORE: Waters here should also chill down as this week progresses. Bait should be more active and moving toward a schooling motive. That should draw the marauding pelagics to the feast. Look for surface action all along the first and second reefs…..i.e. bird action with terns and gulls diving on surfaced scraps or pelicans doing their “diving” thing. You should also see surface eruptions when bait is chased to the surface by attacking mackerel and bluefish from beneath. You can anchor up…..get some cum in the water and work them with tipped top water jigs or stay underway with a tipped jig towed 100 yds astern through the bait eruptions…..both techniques are exciting and usually productive.
OFFSHORE: Cool water action pattern continues out here. On mid range reefs and wrecks you will still have bottom action on snapper both lane and mangrove with the added possibility of early season larger sheepshead. You can work all of that with some chum worked into the structure followed by tipped lindy rigs or jigs right down to the bottom. Deeper the major wrecks are still an inviting stopover spot for the now south migrating pelagics…….you can fully expect to see a king or a cobia even this late as the cooler water is just setting in. A live bait set at 10-15’ in a good chum effort should get you some action. Use major gear and be ready for a struggle.