A welcome break in the wind and weather on tap has anglers eager to hook up both shallow and deep. Although the Gulf waters took some time to settle due to the residual effects of Hurricane Nicole, all of the historic November bites are back in full swing.
To the delight of sea enthusiasts, the calm seas will allow for comfortable travel there from the venue. Once on the scene, anglers will find hungry reef fish, prowling sharks and a scattered pelagic species crashing hard on surface baitfish.
Complementing the established conditions will be an ideal combination of water temperature, tide and turbidity that will fuel excellent snapper fishing at all depths and locations. However, a recent fisheries management decision will ban lane snapper in federal waters beginning at 9 nautical miles.
Effective November 15, the commercial and recreational harvest of striped snapper will be closed and will reopen on January 1, 2023. The closure is due to compliance with the 2002 annual catch limit for the stock of 1,028,973 pounds of whole weight.
Gulf snapper, common in the region and currently available for harvest, include mangrove, yellowtail and lamb. Small profile natural baits rigged with a light leader/hook combination will work well to fool the tasty reef fish. While prospecting for snappers, live squirrelfish, pinfish and jigs will attract snapper and catch and release red grouper.
Before the passage of the recent tropical climate, the nearshore and intermediate terrains were beginning to show characteristics of a fall pelagic run. Although gulf temperatures continue to cool, mackerel have not shown as biomass stages in the northern waters of the region.
It will take several cold or cold fronts sliding across the peninsula to push the silver sprinters into our waters over hard bottom areas, ledges and around the periphery of many artificial fish refuges.
Closer to shore and in the shallows, water quality has returned to be quite favorable for anglers chasing game and a scattering of forage species. The return of baitfish, strong tides and lighter winds have led to active trout, redfish and speckled trout action along with pompano. The best bites are occurring on the beaches, inside area passes and mid-bay systems.
“The weather and the golf have finally settled down,” said captain Brandon Lawson. “We were able to get the Solo Lobo out and out a good distance from shore comfortably and the fish were chewing.”
Taking advantage of the smooth seas, he found Lawson pointing the bow of his charter boat based at Port O Call Marina to depths in excess of 80 feet. Concentrating on natural hard bottom areas, Lawson has returned to the pier with vibrant catches of snapper and snapper.
The murky waters helped Lawson fool limits of yellowtail and mangrove snapper using small chunks of squid and live shrimp rigged on light tackle. Lawson anglers have stayed tight on grouper using whole frozen squid/herring and live pinfish dropped on the substrate on a traditional fish finder rig.
Aboard my guide boat based at Naples City Dock, the Grand Slam, my anglers have enjoyed improved conditions and catches in the coastal waters surrounding Naples and Marco Island.
In shallow water and during both phases of the tide, snook, redfish and jack crevalle are taking a well presented live sardine. The most effective approach technique has been the most effective approach technique rigged on a 2/0-3/0 circle fluorocarbon leader combination and a 2/0-3/0 circle fluorocarbon leader combination 30lb and cast near rock docks, residential docks and current sweep points.
Before the tropical weather and during the upper stages of the incoming tide, my anglers were hooking up with pompano and speckled trout. Soft plastic tubes and templates worked inside the steps and deeper island cuts kept the lines tight. Look for this stock to improve as the month progresses.
Ten thousand islands
“Tropical weather and winds calmed down to make for some solid action from the coastal islands,” said Captain Chris Turner. “Grunt and Red Hen Bite Recovered After Hurricane Nicole Passage.”
Early outings have found Turner and crew securing their baitfish and heading to various areas of the upper Ten Thousand Islands region. Focusing on the outer and middle bay points has kept the rods bent for Turner anglers as they worked over select areas of oyster bars during the upper half and first half of the falling tide matched a good number of redfish that were introduced into Turner’s landing net.