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On the Water: Weather in November brings changes for anglers

By Staff | Nov 5, 2019

PHOTO PROVIDED While visiting Pine Island, Greg Middleworth caught a variety of fish including this redfish that was caught and released along the east side of Charlotte Harbor while fishing with Capt. Bill Russell.

Fishing reports were not the best over the past week as many anglers struggled. Traces of red tide was reported in Pine Island Sound and along the beaches. No gamefish were reported dead or floating, mostly baitfish including pinfish and mullet. Often low levels of red tide do not kill gamefish but it sure effects their appetite. With that said, grass flats off the west side of Bokeelia produced great action on different species including Spanish mackerel, sea trout, bluefish, jack crevalle and ladyfish, plus snook and redfish were reported along the east and west walls of Charlotte Harbor.

Let’s hope the red tide clears out and look ahead to what fishing in November offers at weeks end. November is the time of year we start to combine summer and winter fishing together. As cool fronts begin to arrive our waters are cooling down, fish are transitioning from summer to winter patterns, yet we still have plenty of mild days. Of course, as we close out October, we have not seen any cooler weather as of yet, but hopefully its coming.

November can be a great month for targeting redfish and snook if it doesn’t get too cold too quick. Redfish can tolerate a sudden drop in temperature, but snook not so much. Snook are on the move from their summer homes around the beaches and relocating throughout the inshore waters. If it remains relatively warm, they may be found feeding over inshore flats, oyster bars, shorelines and sand holes. If it turns cold quick, they will seek shelter from the cold in protected areas like canals, rivers and shorelines with deep water. Large schools of redfish that prowled the inshore waters over the last few months will move offshore or break up. It’s still possible to run into a school, but most reds will be in pairs or small bunches. Look for reds tailing over shallow flats on the lowest tides and in the same areas as previously mentioned for snook.

As water temperature drops, gag grouper become more abundant in near shore Gulf waters and inshore. Most anglers target grouper in the Gulf waters, but if you find some underwater structure inshore, it could hold some good fish. Docks, piers, bridges or any type of underwater debris is a good place to look, and it doesn’t have to be very deep, often less than 10 feet.

For fun and action, mackerel, bluefish, small sharks, ladyfish and jack crevalle are foraging on bait schools inshore and along the beaches. A short distance offshore, bait pods get harassed by both Spanish and king mackerel, plus bonito and an occasional blackfin tuna. Expect some big sharks hanging around the feeding activity as well. Pompano catches should also be on the rise this month

Capt. Bill Russell

As the month wears on and the water gets cooler, large sheepshead will be on the move and will relocate around structure in Gulf waters offshore and inshore. Target them in the same areas mentioned for grouper, along the beaches and passes, and around deeper oyster bars and docks or bridges. Our first run of sheepshead generally shows on nearshore reefs and hard bottom or ledges. Last winter we had a great sheepshead run, hoping for more of the same this year.

Nearshore reefs are a good place to run into everything from tasty snapper to giant goliath grouper. Coordinates for all man-made artificial reefs are available to the public and make a great day trip on a calm day. Some of the most productive reefs are well within the sight of land. Also keep an eye out for tripletail and cobia.

With our coastal waters cooling down, it brings a host of fishing possibilities. As we move into our “busy” season and the holidays are in sight, it gets crowded in Southwest Florida. There is no better place to be than on the water and away from the crowds and traffic.

Please keep updated on all current fishing regulations for the area you fish. Redfish, snook and sea trout remained closed for most of Southwest Florida, however you can still enjoy catch-and-release fishing for all three species. Visit myfwc.com/ to get the all latest rules and regulations.

If you have a fishing report or for charter information, please contact us at: Gulf Coast Guide Service, 239-283-7960 or visit www.fishpineisland.com or email gcl2fish@live.com.

Have a safe week and good fishin’.

As a native of Pine Island, Capt. Bill Russell has spent his entire life fishing and learning the waters surrounding Pine Island and as a professional fishing guide for the past 18 years.