N ovember is a month I am always glad to see come around again. The overall temperatures are usually the most pleasant of the year, and the rest of the weather behaves itself as well.
The prospect of Gulf storms is normally past, there is at least some rain (although in recent years, perhaps a bit too much?). Tides are moderate and follow schedules, winds are fairly light.
This is a good month to be outdoors. Like all of the fall season, there are also enough other outdoor activities to take some pressure off the beaches and bays. In my not too distant past, when fishing was my only outdoor activity, I was more than fine with this, but these days I have “diversified” and relish the opportunity to get in some hunting during this time of year also. The chance to combine a fall hunt for squirrels, doves—even deer—with a bit if fishing for reds, specks, or flounders can almost amount to outdoor sensory overload.
Bull reds in the surf are one of the top draws of fall for me, although the big channel bass can also be caught off piers, around jetties, and even near inshore oil rigs in the Gulf itself. Specks in the surf fall into a different tackle level, and can provide much faster action.
A morning in still comfortable “wet” wading water tossing live shrimp or lures to big, yellow-mouth trout is about as good as it gets. Flounders will be staging for a move offshore for the colder months, although the numbers of really big flatfish caught each winter in shrimp nets trawling the ICW proves not all flounders actually move out for winter.
It might be interesting to see if the three-day red snapper season for recreational anglers in the Gulf for 2017 will increase fishing pressure in the bays and other inshore waters. However, I would wager that it doesn’t encourage more private boat owners to take trips on charter boats, which are allowed a much longer fishing time. It’s a good bet that snapper fishing in Texas waters where snappers can be found will reach an all-time high in popularity – but this is not really a good thing, either.
Even though Texas does not keep accurate statistics on such catches, the Feds “estimate” them, normally on the high side. These dubious estimates are then included as part of the recreational catch of red snappers for the Gulf.
This ensures that even with a three-day season, NMFS can announce that the recreational catch exceeded its allowed quota—yet again—and those fish must be “replaced” by an even shorter rec season next year. Anybody else see a zero-day season in the future? Would it be possible to have a negative day season?
Of course, this is all part of the plan to classify charter boats with the commercial, rather than the recreational fishing sector so that catch shares and other unfair restrictions will be easier to implement. Letters to Congress critters should not cease, but rather grow in numbers and intensity.
Location: Surf, bays, piers, jetties, tidal creeks and rivers, and offshore will all be producing fish for those who seek them.
Species: The inshore big three, speckled trout, redfish, and flounder, are seasonal favorites, but pan-fish are numerous. Offshore will be without red snappers except in state waters.
Bait: Live or “fresh dead” bait is fairly easy to come by, with shrimp, croakers, mud minnows, small mullet, and small “shad” being favorites. All sorts of man-made lures will catch fish. Fall is an excellent time to try out fly fishing in salt water, as well.
Best Time: In November, fishing all day can be pleasant and productive. Have I ever mentioned, though, to pay attention to the tides when planning a trip to the coast?
Email Mike Holmes at [email protected]