Local Fishing Report
Gulf of Mexico
It looks like the peak of the fall king mackerel run will occur in November this year, based on the rate at which the fish were showing up in Southwest Florida waters towards the end of October. Kings ranging in size from five pound schoolies up to forty pound smokers can be found from a few hundred yards to a few dozen miles offshore. While these fish can be found almost anywhere, anglers are most likely to find good fishing by concentrating on areas where there are schools of bait or on areas where there is structure on the bottom. Don't be surprised when you catch other fish while hunting kings because bonita, sharks, blackfin tuna, huge jack crevalle and sometimes jumbo redfish may also be found sharing the food chain with the migrating king mackerel. Spanish mackerel, fish that are mostly in the one to four pound range, are smaller cousins of the king mackerel and will be thick along the coast this month with the best action usually found around the passes and inlets. A mix of bluefish, ladyfish and blue runners will often be found mixed with the Spanish mackerel and when this happens it can result in unbelievably hot action. Bottom fishermen also look forward to November as the first month when significant numbers of large gag grouper begin to show up on the shallow ledges in less than 60 feet of water, negating the need to travel many miles out over the horizon in search of a fresh grouper dinner. Sometimes the best gag action occurs within easy sight of the beach.
Mixed Spanish mackerel, bluefish, blue runners, ladyfish and jacks are tearing up schools of bait in the harbor. Surface activity gives away the location and birds can be your best friends when it comes to finding the action. The lower harbor and the bars around the Gulf passes are almost always active this time of year, but the action can be as far inland as the I-75 bridge on the Peace River, or upriver of El Jobean on the Myakka River. You might, just might, find a stray tarpon around the edges of the frenzies, but most of the silver kings left the area around the end of October. There is a show of flounder along the barrier islands in November, the back sides of Gasparilla Island and Cayo Costa are good, as are the edges of the inlets. Bouncing baits along the sandy bottom in two to six feet of water where you can find a current running is a good flounder bet. The best trout fishing has been on the flats in two to three feet of water in the upper harbor, and on slightly deeper grass flats in the lower harbor and nearer to the Gulf. When temps cool a bit further look for trout fishing in canals, creeks and boat basins to perk up. Slot redfish are being found along the mangroves on both sides of the harbor, and fishable numbers are showing up in the canal systems and up the rivers now as well. The winter sheepshead fishery is starting to crank up, there are fairly good numbers of sheepshead appearing in the canals and around docks and this fishery will get hotter and hotter as the weather gets cooler and cooler. November is the last month of snook season, and we’re seeing sub-legal fish and some slot sized fish in the upper harbor.
*Triggerfish season opens January 1
*Greater Amberjack opens May 1, 2018 (closed all of 2017!!)
*Snook season closes Dec. 1
Let's Go Fishing!
Capt. Ralph Allen