November is the month where just about anything can happen in the Gulf of Mexico off south Florida. Offshore water temperatures will be slowly getting cooler and the baitfish will start migrating south. Along with the bait, comes a multitude of species following right behind them.
Kingfish, blackfin tuna and cobia are my favorite fish to target in the fall. This year we will have to travel a little deeper than usual due to the red tide problem. Typically, I like to fish the beach area and out to around 50 feet of water for pelagics, but this season I am anticipating the bait will be out a little deeper in cooler waters. The red tide in our area has been out to almost 45 feet of water, depending on which way the wind is blowing that day. You have to find clean water to find the fish in these conditions.
Bottom fish are always plentiful in November, as well. The gag grouper will find their way into shallower waters. Every year we catch some really nice gags in about 30- to 50-feet of water on some big ledges and structures. If you are after pelagics, use live baits for the best results. You can sabiki up some cigar minnows, Spanish sardines or blue runners. You can either slow troll the baits or flat line while you are anchored up bottom fishing.
I would like to clarify to anyone who is wanting to fish and might be hesitant due to the red tide water conditions, once you get out past the red tide the fishing is outstanding, and there are no concerns of the safety of eating the fish. At the time of writing this, the red tide had cleared out almost completely.
Try and keep using local businesses and help out those restaurants and businesses that are located on the water and nearby. There are many businesses that are struggling this season because of the lack of tourists. We all must stick together to get through this crisis.
Remember to always follow state and federal regulations. Be courteous of other boaters, and keep only what you can eat.
Capt. Tom Bailas operates TNT Charters out of Venice, Fla. Check them out at www.tntfishingcharters.com or on Facebook @tntfishingchartersvenice.
By Capt. Tom Bailas