Rivers to Bay Report By: Capt. John Rivers

Turkey, stuffing and all the Black Friday ads–it must be November again! Halloween has come and gone and while the hunters are getting ready to go deer hunting, the bargain shoppers are getting their holiday gift lists together. But, what about us fishermen, what do we do? We fish, of course.

The red fishing in Tampa Bay was outstanding last month, and I have a feeling that November is going to be just as exceptional, especially once a few of the cold fronts arrive and drop the water temps some. Snook will have started to make their way toward the rivers. If memory serves me right, last year in November, the snook bite was awesome. My biggest caught in one of the rivers was a 37-inch snook with many others caught on the flats in the 24 to 30-inch range. Anyone who knows me, knows I love catching snook no matter what time of year it is. Another one of my favorite fish to catch in November is speckled trout. 99% of the time I’m tossing artificials because the bait can be a little more scarce on the flats due to the cold fronts, which suits me fine as I typically catch more trout on artificials than I do on live bait.

This month, I will keep a few boxes of my trusty lures handy even when I plan on using live bait, which is usually pilchards and pinfish. My go-to artificials include MirrOlure’s 17M (Colors: CHSB, VPB, Trout), Heddon’s Spook (Colors: Bone & Red/White), Bass Assassin’s 5-inch Fluke (Colors: Mississippi Hippie, Texas Roach, Bad to the Bone) and Matrix Shad (Colors: Limbo Slice, Shrimp Creole).

With these cold fronts coming through, it pushes the water out of Tampa Bay and sometimes causes negative tides. This is when the fish are congregated in small tide pools or depressions where water has become trapped until the tide comes back in. With these negative tides, fish can become confined to certain areas. If you can get to the area of confinement, you can almost always get the fish.

King mackerel are plentiful in the Bay and the grouper should be showing up in full force. For both kings and grouper, you can troll plugs like the Mann’s Stretch or, if you’re a bottom bumping angler, live pinfish for grouper on the ledges and live pilchards or threadfin for the kings. The kings are everywhere all over Tampa Bay including the Skyway Bridge and Egmont Key.

November is a great month to fish Tampa Bay. If you can get away from the shopping lists and pie eating, you should take a kid (or a kid at heart) fishing.

Keep the rods bent and the lines tight.