Congratulations to those who participated and to all who enjoyed themselves at this year’s King of The Beach! There was a great turnout for the circumstances and the weather was… well…king fishing weather! I sure am hoping and praying that we can put hurricane season behind us as we close out a very active year with Florida fairing pretty well. As I wrap up this report, Eta just came through causing some damage to our coast and some serious storm surge and flooding through the night. I hope everyone stayed safe and dwellings and personal property damage was kept to a minimum.
November fishing around Tampa Bay is a fun and versatile time of year to continue targeting some species that enjoy feeding freely in warmer temps such as snook and redfish, as we also transition towards our more active colder temp fish. Included in this list is one of my personal favorites, tripletail, in addition to mackerel, kingfish, and sheepshead. The beach is extremely lively this time of year as bull redfish are roaming in big schools, Spanish mackerel are tearing through bait schools, and the kingfish are lurking just on the outskirts. Trolling deep diving plugs for gag grouper in the shipping channel is heating up, as we still have more than a month left until their closure that will wrap up the year.
I enjoy switching things up this time of year and trolling Rapala X-Rap Magnum 30’s in purple and green. Varying your speed from high speed trolling of 10+kts down to 4-6kts can help you find the best bite and action from the lure and give you a good chance of hooking both kingfish and grouper. Many of my recent trips have been spent off the beach catching Spanish mackerel until we’re tired, running the crab traps looking for Tripletail, and bump trolling kingfish. However, we’re coming into a great time to bump docks and fly through countless shrimp as grouper, snapper, and sheepshead will be getting right with these cooler temps inshore.
Sheepshead are a great table fare in the winter that require a 12 inch minimum total length and allow a daily bag limit of 8 per person. Make sure you have a sharp knife as sheepshead and tripletail both have thick skin and a large rib cage that make filleting them a bit of a project. However, both fish will reward you with delicious mild and flaky meat that makes all of the work worthwhile. I have been using a 9-inch filet knife made by Seamule this entire season and it has performed and held up beautifully. The German stainless steel blade cuts like butter and holds a sharp edge for many trips before needing a quick swipe on the stone. With so many fishing options this time of year and the gorgeous weather we’re starting to come into, get out there and hook into a big one!
Until next month,