November 10th 2017 Fishing Report
CONDITIONS: Fall weather is slowly taking over our fishing conditions. It’s not only the refreshing drop in early morning temperatures but it’s the associated plummet in humidity. And you can’t forget the cessation of those rip-roaring T-storms that send us all scurrying. But on the negative side we are beginning to see the pattern of WIND. This week, for the first time in awhile, we’ll be confronted with wind (but more definitively gusts) that arrives mid morning and works the area for all of the late morning and afternoon. Those gusts make boat handling complicated and fouls the water clarity especially in the shallower backwater. Forecasts show afternoon gusts in the 20-25 mph range by week end. But on the bright side there is zero rain in the forecasts that will eliminate missed days on the water. The tides are in the middle of moon phases and reasonable both ways and the water temps should hover in the low 70’s neighborhood. Bottom line……good week to try out your late fall fishing skills.
BACKWATER: The fall species of fish favorites are showing up right on schedule. Those summer mainstays …… the snook are still borderline active but as the water dips into the mid 60’s in the coming weeks they will fade into quasi hibernation mode. Still get fair action on the juveniles but the slots will be scarce. Replacing those favorites in the coming weeks will be the fall and winter lineup of cool / cold water species. Dominant among that grouping is the sheepshead. During spring and summer months there were everywhere but true juvenile in size. Now, using the same bait and same locales you have a good chance at a take home fish…… and as the water continues to chill they will get larger as they head inshore to spawn. In the same venues you will now see their “look-alike” black drum. The drum can fool ID because of the same black/ white striping but they are distinctively different in size and fight to capture. Both species will go for small pieces of shrimp or crab worked on a vertical soft lift technique. Redfish will be the other dominant fall species as, they too, like the cooler climes. Reds like the shallower water especially over mud bottom and often will be feeding in schools. Their go-to bait is whole shrimp or live pilchards worked freeline or under a popper. Bottom feeding species like the silver trout and whiting will begin to show in the deeper holes and cuts just off the beaches and along the channels and waterways. A tipped weighted jig twitched on a slow retrieve will be their downfall. And not to forget one of the favorites the spotted sea trout which thrives in the cooler climes and will be deep in early morning cool and move to the shallow (4-6’) grass bottom flats in the warmer afternoons. Trout will fall for a tipped jig or an artificial tout.
NEARSHORE: Waters in the 20-30’ range just off the beaches are also a great spot of sheepshead action beginning now, as they pile up on the reef structure feeding on bottom growth. As in the backwater use a slot lift technique with either shrimp or cut crabs as good available bait. Bottom action mixed in with the sheepshead will be on both lane and mangrove snapper as well as whiting and silver trout. All on small tipped jigs. If you work live bait to the bottom on dominant reefs like the Walton Reef off Caxambas Pass and the Five Mile Reef there is a good chance you’ll run into gag and some red grouper working live bait tight to the structured bottom.
OFFSHORE: On the deeper wrecks in 60 foot depths you’ll experience the fade out of pelagic action on kings and cobia as the vanguard of those species are headed south on their annual migration as the water chills down. Need stout tackle……live bait……chum…..and patience for these larger species. As the water temperature continues to decline, the red grouper becomes the primary target in deep water. They are a great catch both from the action and on the dinner table. You work them using a live pinfish or cut ladyfish worked tight to the hard bottom on a tide induced drift. Another great target deep is the yellowtail snapper that hold on bait laden wrecks and become very active in a good chum slick. They, too, are great table fare.