November is about flounder, redfish, trout, and mullet. Some of the best flounder fishing of the year happens this month in the bays and the near shore reefs and wrecks. Trout are strong on the flats taking topwater lures. Red in the bay are everywhere, rat reds will hang on docks and bridges. Big schools of bull reds will be in the pass and on the flats. Look for birds working the flats to locate the large schools of reds attacking bait.
Roe mullet will be moving in the bayous, passes and along the beach. break out your cast net for some great fun and excellent eating.
Trout will be found in deeper water this time of year. Try fishing deep water boat docks, bridges, deep holes in the bayous and channels. Your best baits for trout will be live shrimp, pinfish, croakers, and pigfish. Fish these on a Carolina rig or under a popping cork.
Deep running or sinking plugs, DOA shrimp and Savage shrimp are some of the best lures. Fish this very slow this time of year, as the water is cold and trout are less aggressive. Fishing the lure too fast will limit the number of bites.
A good way to locate trout is to slow troll with a shrimp tail soft plastic jig in the deep channels of the bayou to locate the trout and then switch to live bait to get the max number of bites.
Most or the redfish will be caught fishing live shrimp, pinfish, croakers and pigfish. Reds will be hanging on docks, bridges and jetties. You will get most of your bites fishing with live bait on a Carolina rig on the bottom. Redfish have to be between 18 and 27 inches to keep.
There are a lot of bull reds around during the winter months and you will find them in the passes, deep channels and around deep water bridges. These bull reds are fun to catch and release. If you chose this type of fishing make sure to net the fish and do your best to unhook them while still in the water only using the net to control the fish. Troll for them using deep running lures. If your lures have large lips and troll 15 of more foot you can run them by themselves. If you have lures wilt small lips you may need to add trolling lead 4 to 6 ounces to get the lure deep enough. Add single hooks to your lures rather than the treble hooks that normally come on them. Single hooks make it easier to release the fish unharmed.
Flounder will be in the bay and gulf this month, November and December feature some of the best flounder action of the year. Flounder can be caught hook and line or gigged in good numbers.
Fish a Carolina rig on the bottom near docks and bridges that have sand bottom with access to deep water and oyster beds for best results. Your best bait will be live bull minnows, but flounder belly strips, DOA lures, Savage Shrimp and Gulp will also work.
You will find the best flounder fishing just outside the passes and near shore reefs and wrecks. For these flounder in the gulf, bulls minnows fished on a Carolina rig will produce the most fish. Fish on the lee side (down wind) of the reef or wreck. Unlike snapper or grouper fishing you don’t want to be directly over the wreck but more the sand bottom on the lee side of the wreck. Flounder much prefer to lay on the sand bottom than rock waiting to ambush prey.
If you have not tried fresh mullet you are missing out, it is no wonder they make such good bait as I can definitely see why other fish would want to eat them. Also this time of year they are filled with roe and fried mullet roe is yummy.
Mullet for the most part are caught but throwing a cast net off the dock. mullet are vegetarian and are difficult to catch on a rod and reel but it can be done.
If you want to try you hand at catching on rod and reel you need 3 or 4 treble hooks on one line and 1oz lead at the bottom. Tip one prong of each treble with a small piece of a chartreuse grub. Chum the water where you are fishing with dry Ole Roy Dog food. Drop you rig over and wait to feel the mullet sucking on your grub and then snag them with one of the trebles.
Pier Bridge Jetty and Surf
Pelagics are moving out so now the focus will be redfish, sheepshead, flounder, black drum a few pompano and whiting. Winter bonita will start to show at the pier and surf.
Catch keeper reds on a Carolina rig and live shrimp fished on the bottom around the jetties or pier. Slot reds in the surf on a 2 hook bottom rig and shrimp.
Bull reds on the pier, jetty or surf are caught on cut mullet or pinfish fished off the bottom.
Use live bull minnows on a Carolina rig with a 1/2oz to 2oz egg sinker. Fish around the docks in the bay or harbor, off the pier and around the jetties. You can also fish Berkley gulps, DOA shrimp and Savage shrimp lures.
Sheepshead will be plentiful off the pier, bridges and jetties. Fish a fiddler crab, live shrimp or oyster on a Carolina rig right next to the pilings or jetty. Sheepshead have a very small mouth so make sure you have a very small hook or you will get a lot of bites and not catch many fish.
Pompano and Whiting
Pompano and whiting will not be as plentiful in the surf this time of year but a few can be caught on sand fleas, shrimp or fiddler crabs. Most of the pompano and whiting will only be in the surf.
Weather plays a big part and you need to put your efforts toward the correct days. Look for a day right before a weather front moves in where the temps are warmer and the wind is from the south and the seas are kicked up a bit. On the cold north wind days, when the surf is flat, the action can be very slow.
Off the piers and occasionally off the jetty or surf there will be large schools of bonita crashing pods of rain minnows. Look for the birds and you will normally find the bonita. They bite best on the coldest of mornings with a north wind.
Toss white jigs or white jerk baits for the best action, sometimes spoons or bubble rigs will work well.
Grouper tend to like natural bottom better than wrecks, but the will hang out on wrecks. You can also catch grouper on the beach reefs. We tend to catch the majority of keeper grouper at depths of 150ft to 400ft. You need live cigar minnows, herring, threadfin herring or northern mackerel. Grouper can also be caught jigging with heavy bucktail jigs and butterfly style jigs.
Scamp Grouper are generally found in the 75ft to 400ft range, They prefer natural bottom but will gather on some wrecks. Fishing a Carolina rig with 1oz of lead for every 10ft of water. Best to use live cigar minnows, pinfish or frozen northern mackerel.
Vermillion snapper aka Mingo snapper or Beeliners are another one of the better eating snappers. In my opinion they are much better than red snapper and can be caught all year. They normally range 1lb to 3lbs but we catch them from 5lbs to 7lbs. If these little guys grew to 20-30lbs no one would care about red snapper. Use a 2 or 3 hook bottom rig with circle hooks no bigger than a nickel in size. The best bait is squid, northern mackerel or bonita cut into 1in chunks, fresher is better. They can be caught on wrecks or reefs in 50 to 175 foot depths. Another bait not many people use but very effective is Fishbites or Gulp!
Amberjack are generally found fishing wrecks in 50 to 400 ft range, Unlike grouper they tend to like large wrecks rather than natural bottom. Live cigar minnows, hardtails, pinfish and vermillion snapper are preferred baits. Use a Carolina rig with extra long leaders, up to 20ft when fish are picky. Amberjack also love butterfly jigs and large swimbaits.
While yellowfin tuna bite all year at the rigs the prime time for fishing them is May-November, this is when they venture closer to home. Most are caught at the Nipple, Spur, Steps, Squiggles and Rigs.
Tuna can be caught in the day trolling ballyhoo, cedar plugs and bullet head lures. Look for birds working bait or pods of porpoise as many times you will find the tuna mixed in with the porpoise.
At night catch the tuna jigging or chunking. Find a good spot and set the sea anchor and start chumming with cut pieces of northern or Boston mackerel.
Tuna can range form the small football size to well over 200lbs here along the panhandle area!
Imagine it’s a warm summer night, seas running a soft 1 to 2, wind light and variable, stars fill the night sky, you have a cold beer in hand and burgers on the grill. Everyone sitting around tell war stories of the one that got away. Lines are set, extra baits are rigged, the Hydroglow’s light spills under the boat turning the crystal blue water a erie green. You can see the 4 buoys marking the lines in the distance. In the quiet still of the night the drag starts screaming, Sword on the Line!!
Swordfish are mostly caught around the Spur fishing the north wall. Most are caught using large offshore squid, whole bonita and northern mackerel. While we do catch daytime swordfish most are caught at night. Fish 3 lines at depths of 50ft, 100ft, and 200ft deep.
Near Shore Fishing
During the winter months bonita cruise the surf, just off the sand bar and along the beaches. You can cast white jigs, white jerk baits or troll Yo-Zuri plugs for them. Look for birds working to locate them. The best days are cold north wind days.
While most people will tell you bonita are not good to eat they have just never seen it done right. Immediately upon catching make a cut under each pectoral fin to the back bone on both sides and cut a ring around the tail, don’t cut the tail completely off. Stand the bonita on his nose in a bucket for about 5 minutes to bleed out. Then ice it in a cooler in slushy ice.
When you filet you will see the meat is dark with a distinct blood line. Remove the blood line and skin and cut into chunks. In a pot add some oil maybe a cup, add bonita, salt, pepper fish seasoning and cover filets with water and boil. When done drain and mix up with your favorite recipe just as you would with Starkist Tuna for some tasty fresh tuna salad. Another method I have had that was tasty was on vacation in Jamaica and they blackened it with Caribbean fish seasoning. Definitely stronger then some fish but tasty.
Pick out a area of natural bottom or large wreck. Mix a batch of chum, some for a chum bag and some for tossing over chunk style. Use a few pieces of bonita or mackerel for bait. There are plenty of sharks all year if you just want a tug on the line.
You will need a 80lb rod and reel combo spooled 80lb or 100lb line braid or mono. Your leader should be 150lb to 250lb wire with a 12/0 to 16/0 circle. Sharks can be caught on boats or surf fisherman, there are plenty of sharks in the surf if you want to do that.
Hunting season will be in full swing. We have deer, hogs, ducks and doves.