November in Key Largo
Ahhh November, there is nothing like it! Ice lasts longer in our coolers as the fishing just gets hotter! By now most of our snowbirds have arrived and the winter weather pattern has stabilized making fishing conditions enjoyable to say the least. Successful fishing this time of year really depends on having a working knowledge of fish behavior and patterns pertaining to the consistent changes in the weather. Here in Key Largo we are pretty much in the middle of it all with a variety of different areas to fish that are in close proximity to each other. This means that no matter what is going on with the weather there is always some species to target successfully daily. Fishing is good for most species this month so I find myself launching and trailering around a lot from Islamorada to Flamingo. I do so in order to keep boat rides short and maximize fishing time for my clients. Weather can also be a concern so my clients’ comfort level is important.
We begin to see shrimp running/moving during the full moons at the beginning and end of this month making them very desirable baits for everything. So much so that a lot of fly patterns I throw this time of the year are shrimp pattern-esk. In the backcountry, November is the last month of snook season until 2016 so most anglers are looking to target linesiders. (If you do not already know the current regulations ,a copy can be found in this and every issue of Fishmonster) When targeting snook in the backcountry, live bait is a must. Luckily it is relatively easy to find in the form of pinfish, pilchards and shrimp. We see a few strong cold fronts this month that can drop the temperature 20 degrees or more within just a few hours. This sends fish looking for deep water, which is warmer and takes longer to cool. Those who were here for the cold snap and fish kill of 2010 remember seeing canals full of dead fish, all seeking warmer water. That being said some of my best fishing takes place in or around areas with access to deep water, especially after a cold front has moved through.
These cold fronts also affect our fishing on the oceanside. Bonefishing can be particularly good with the right weather conditions. Bonefish have a comfort zone when it comes to water temperatures and as cold fronts move through the area these fish push further and further south with every passing one. Last year I had a great day catching several large bonefish out of schools moving down the oceanside of Key Largo during a day with north winds 20-25mph in 50-degree weather. We caught our bones on live shrimp and shrimp pattern flies while fishing in the lee of the island.
FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO KNOW ME, KNOW THAT TO ME, FISHING IS MORE THAN JUST A GAME, IT IS A WAY OF LIFE. SO FISH HARD AND FISH OFTEN!
Patch reef fishing is improving and will only get better. This is a great option for families just looking to bend a rod on a quick half-day trip. Species like snappers, groupers, hogfish, porgies, mackerel, jacks and other assorted reef fish are always a possibility. I tend to call them dinner trips due to the amount of edible species you will typically catch, however you do not have to keep your catch. Regulations have recently changed. Hogfish is now closed in all South Atlantic federal waters until January 1st, 2016. Always take a current copy of regulations with you if you plan on fishing the patch reefs.
The 4th annual Cheeca Lodge All American Backcountry Fishing Tournament will begin November 12th and go through Saturday November 14th, 2015. This is an all release tournament for tarpon, bonefish, permit, snook and redfish. All proceeds will benefit the Guides Trust Foundation, a local organization that assists Florida Keys fishing guides in times of need in addition to awarding scholarships to local students. For more information about the tournament rules or to acquire additional entry forms contact Julie Olsen (305) 288-2436 or email jolsen@ cheeca.com.
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