Just because the Destin Fishing Rodeo has wrapped up, it doesn’t mean that the fishing is over; in a lot of ways, it’s actually getting better. Fall brings out the best of fishing in our area. Temps are cool, but the water is still warm. There’s a lot of bait in the area and that will hold lots of fish. Most tourists have gone home so locals can get out without all the crowds. All of the inshore, nearshore, and offshore bites will continue to be good, so don’t put your rods up yet.
November is one of the best months out of the year for inshore fishing. Both trout and redfish will continue to be good and continue to get better, but it’s flounder time! Every fall we have a flounder spawning migration where they leave the bays and estuaries and head to the gulf. Usually, the most active part of the migration is after the moon in October, but I believe November will be when most of the migration happens this year. When this happens you can really catch a nice mess for the dinner table. Once the fish start heading into the gulf, they’ll stack up on all the nearshore wrecks, usually within 3- to 4-miles from the passes. You can also find them on their way out around the bridges and jetties. The best rig for these fish is a 1/0 circle hook, an 18” leader of 20 lb test, and a slip lead. Lead sizes will vary depending on current and depth. Use bull minnows, if you can find them, or finger mullet; small cigar minnows can be effective too. This is one of the best runs of fish we have all year, so get ready!
We still have large schools of mullet around this time of year and if you find them, trout and redfish should be there. Cast soft plastics in and around the schools. Blood minnows and greenies should be good this month, which will keep the redfish, trout, bluefish, and skipjacks happy. If you find the birds diving in the bay, you’ll find fish, so keep working plastic baits, both hard and soft, and you’ll get some bites.
Most guys fishing the inshore wrecks for flounder almost always end up with a nice catch of black snapper, mingos, triggers, and even a few grouper. There’s still plenty of bait piled up on all the wrecks so the fish aren’t going anywhere. As usual, you’ll have to dig through the red snappers to catch any of these fish, but that’s a fun problem. You can use the same type of tackle for the bottom fish as you would for flounder. If you start getting broken off you can go up a few sizes on your leader material; flounder don’t seem to mind and you’ll catch more fish of other species.
The offshore bite will again be great this month! November has mostly good weather, but it can get rough. If possible, take advantage of the pretty days and plan your days around the weather, not just when you have a day off from work. Bottom fishing will continue to be good for grouper, amberjack, triggerfish, snapper and more. Bait should be relatively easy to find, but if it starts to get cold, move into the harbors and bayous to find your bait. Have a pinfish trap ready for when the bait on the beach starts to scatter. Try something many others do not…start keeping your white snapper, mingos, mullet, bluefish, skipjacks, lizard fish, squirrel fish and more, to use for bait. You’ll get a lot of bites using these and sometimes bigger fish too. The offshore trolling bite will start to slow down this month but will still be pretty good. There’s always a few tuna and bonito stacked up on the edge which will keep the wahoo around. The yellowfin tuna bite has been real good and should continue to get better off of the mouth of the Mississippi around the offshore rigs. November, especially the early part, can be really good for billfish. White marlin are still around and a few blues, we’ve caught them all the way out to Thanksgiving.
Fall fishing on the Emerald Coast will continue to be good, so don’t miss out! For more info on fishing or to get setup with the right tackle, feel free to call or stop by the shop.
CAPT. PETER WRIGHT, JR.
The Ships Chandler
646 E. Hwy 98
Destin, FL 32541