November is a great month to be fishing in the Tampa Bay Area. This is a transitional month when you will see the water temperature drop to the low 70’s in a typical year. Well, what does that mean? It means the land of fishing opportunities. You will still have all your resident fish like redfish, snook, trout and mangrove snapper among others, but with the falling water temperatures going into the magic 70’s, the pelagic fish will move in. You will be able to target many species in the same day from snook and redfish to cobia and kingfish, all in the Tampa Bay area.
Redfish will continue to be good from the October bite, but may slow down toward the end of the month, depending on how cold it gets. Snook will be on the move this month, but it is a great time to catch a monster of a snook. Just be sure to handle them with care, because most likely it will be a large breeder female. Take care to revive her first after the fight and then take a quick picture and safely release her to make more juvenile snook.
There will be plenty of trout around. Look for them to be in the 3 to 6-foot depths on grass flats with plenty of sand holes and also on shell bottom that has grass mixed in. Some of the largest trout will go to the shallower water as the sun heats it up first thing in the morning. This is a good time to throw a topwater lure like a Duke Dog, MirrOmullet or Pro Dog skin series by MirrOlure.
One of the things that happens this month that makes it so good is the abundance and variety of bait fish that is available. Finger mullet, threadfin Herring, scaled sardines, glass minnows and pinfish–there is something for everyone.
Flounder is another species that will make its appearance. Look for them to be in the sand around the outside edges of the nearshore and inshore reefs, sand holes on the grass flats and edges of grass flats where it meets the sand. I like to use a ¼-ounce Saltwater Assassin jig head and their shrimp cocktail or Lil P&V in molting, chicken on a chain and Houdini colors. Make sure to keep it in contact with the bottom with small hops or, if the bottom allows it, a slow steady retrieve like a shrimp crawling along the bottom.
As we move into the latter part of the month, look for cobia to start migrating toward the power plants as the water cools. These fish can be juvenile in size up to 45 pounds. The fish will be found up to a half mile from the power plant. You can sight fish for them, if the water clarity allows. In this scenario, use a live pinfish or threadfin under a cork or a MirrOdine XL for the artificial approach.
Look for schools of Spanish mackerel to be chasing the schools of bait that are in the Bay and along the beaches this month. A casting spoon in gold or silver will get the job done along with cut or live scaled sardines or shrimp. Along with mackerel, there will be King mackerel moving in along the beaches and moving up into the bay near Port Manatee. A threadfin, scaled sardine or blue runner under a balloon on a stinger rig is hard for them to resist.
So, with all the variety this month, get out there and catch a trophy!