November is the month marking several changes in weather, water quality and fishing itself. Air temperatures begin to drop which in turn brings the water temperatures into the 70’s. Look for an increase in northeast winds, making the east side of the Indian River the “target zone” for inland fishing.
Trout season is closed November and December. Like snook, the resident trophy trout must read the newspaper being well aware of the closed season and seem to taunt anglers by hitting anything that moves. Topwater, soft rubber, or live shrimp, it doesn’t seem to matter to these guys, making it a perfect time to practice safe releases. There are several things anglers can do to give the fish a better chance of survival. First, crimp all barbs. You’ll catch just as many fish while minimizing damage when unhooking them. Wetting your hands prior to handling any fish allows the fish to maintain its protective slime coat and keeps the slime off your hands. Release the fish in the water, if possible, avoiding nets, dropping them onto your boat deck or slinging them out for a “deep six”. Taking care of these fish now will produce some great results in January.
Look for redfish along mangrove shorelines on the east side or in shallow water along Indian River Drive on the west side. There are numerous docks along Indian River Drive that hold plenty of fish, but stealth is the key. Approach the docks slowly and quietly casting under and along structure. I know a group of senior “snowbird” anglers who go wading every morning, fishing this zone and they do well on trout, snook and redfish. Expect and increase in ladyfish, jacks, Spanish mackerel and bluefish which will show up anywhere and everywhere. Make sure you have some wire leader in your tackle box in case you happen on a school of blues or “macs”. Using wire in this situation can save a lot of tackle. An 8” piece of #3 wire works great!!!
November’s also a good time for flounder. They can usually be found around structure or where there’s a sandy bottom. Take a drive up to Fort Pierce and fish the South Jetty with shrimp and trollrites. Cast out and plant it on the bottom or slowly (and I mean slowly) retrieve along the bottom. Remember, flounder regulations are 12-inch minimum and no more than 10 per person. Personally I won’t keep any flounder under 15 inches, allowing the smaller ones to grow. Have you ever cleaned a 12” flounder? It’s really not worth the effort.
Snook will still be around, mainly inside around area bridges, seawalls, and other structure. If the wind picks up, fish the bridges where big snook will be pounding big baits. Snook really do like choppy water and I believe it’s due to an increase in oxygen levels. Flair hawks and large live baits like a 9” mullet top the preferred list.
Pompano fever begins in November, lasting until March. From the Jensen bridge nothing beats a nylure jig on 10-12 lb. test, vertically jigging along the bottom. These “pomps” like clean water, so try the last two hours of incoming tide until the first hour of outgoing. If you’re fishing from a boat there could be pompano anywhere. My favorite areas are the crossroads, Sailfish flats, near the quarter bridge (just outside casting distance of the bridge anglers), channels running east and west like Indian Riverside Park, and finally around the spoil islands. I like to mix up the tackle with Gulfstream’s redfish and shrimp jigs, live shrimp, Capt. Joe’s jigging spoons or sand fleas on triple-rigged kayle hooks. Just be aware of the manatee zone when heading to the Sailfish flats (west of the House of Refuge). There are two manatee zone signs in east and west line with the House of Refuge. All water south of the signs to the Inlet is no wake, slow speed. It seems to also be a favorite area for Fish and Game and Sheriff’s boats to monitor and hand out autographs, so keep it slow and avoid a stiff fine.
Heading into the surf, the blues, Spanish mackerel and pompano will be the story all winter long. Macs and blues will be in close feeding on cut bait along the bottom or. silver spoons, glass minnow jigs. Casting anything shiny should result in a “whack”. The pompano will be out farther so it’s a good time to break out the 13’ rods. Sand fleas on kayle rigs top the list. Even in the surf the pompano will be seeking clean water. There are plenty of beach accesses, so find some clean water and start fishing. Remember when fishing in Martin County, there’s a maximum of 2 rods per angler, while in St. Lucie County the maximum is 4 rods per angler. The pompano limit is 10 per person (no matter where you’re fishing) with a 11 inch minimum to the fork, and only one over 20 inches.
Anglers as far south as Miami will be heading to Peck’s Lake for the Spanish mackerel run. Peck’s Lake is located two miles south of the St. Lucie Inlet, about 100 yards from shore. The macs show up in November and since the net ban they remain in the area well into the spring. You can troll for them or cast a variety of lures. Joe’s Jigging spoons, Gulfstream flash jigs and tube lures seem to produce the best results. Another option is bullethead jigs tipped with shrimp. Some anglers will chum them to the boat using glass minnow chum. Mono leader works the best, but expect some cutoffs. To avoid cutoffs use a 8” #3 wire leader. If you’ve never seen the “mac attack” it’s really a sight to behold. If you don’t like fishing in crowds you can still find these fish closer to the inlet and using light tackle and allows them to run which is a blast on 6-lb. test. Mackerel regs are 12” to the fork, 15 per day. There’s really no need to max your limit. Catch plenty but keeping a few should be rule of the day. I run many charters to Peck’s Lake this time of year on the Catch 22, sometimes catching over 50 a trip!! The action is fast and furious and I’ve seen some very seasoned anglers really get excited.
Offshore, look for sailfish in 60’ and deeper. When trolling double hook-ups are common so if you’ve got a good spread, try to leave one line in the water after hooking up the first fish. Dolphin will be hanging around the weedlines starting at 60’. Dolphin fish regulations are 20” min to the fork and 10 per- person. There should still be plenty of kingfish inside 60’. They’ll hit trolled ballyhoo, live greenies or sardines. Finding live bait can sometimes be tough, so don’t waste the day in search of greenies when you’ve got some perfectly respectable ballyhoo in the boat that will attract the attention of almost anything offshore. You might even run across a nice wahoo if you’re running a line on a planer. Bottom fishing should be good as long as the seas cooperates. The grouper bite may not be the best, but it’s a great time for some big mutton and red snapper.
November is a great month for fishing. Be sure to check the weather before heading offshore. Have fun out there!.