I have never been this far behind on a report before, but all for good reasons! November tends to be a slow visitor month here in the Keys, but it is the beginning of big changes. A year ago we all found ourselves recovering from the devastating effects of Hurricane Irma. We have come a long, long way and are reaping the rewards on every level. The reefs are in good shape, fishing is excellent, my new boat is getting better and everything good is moving in fast forward.
Everything I do is effected by weather, seasonal changes and trends in temperature. November is a huge transitional month compromised of all of those influences. 1/3 of our way into November, we are still essentially in a summer pattern for now. Looking ahead at the extended forecast, it looks like it is about to change. A huge push of new fish will be arriving with the wind and fronts forecasted to move into our area November 14th-18th. It’s going to mess up all and any in the water activities, but fishing should be excellent.
Up to this point offshore has been really good for dolphin and tuna. Specifically to right now, we see a short November run of Dolphin and the blackfin tuna is the majority of our targeted species out in the blue water.
Dolphin will drop off quickly soon, but the tuna should be solid through the rest of the year. Soon we should see a few wahoo around the full moon and sailfish off the windy backside of strong cold fronts.
On the reef the yellowtail snapper bite is really good. The summertime average of small keepers is up to 15″-18″ fish and some in the 20″ plus range on the good days. Your light tackle fishing skills will be put to the test. The yellow gladiators are smart, fast, fight like crazy and are some of the finest eating you can pull from our waters.
While fishing on the yellow brick road, we often catch bonita, mangrove snapper, mackerel, groupers, jacks and a handful of other reef oddball fish that come and go day to day. In short, reef fishing is really good!
Knowing the weather is going to be funky, there are some good foul weather alternatives. Depending on the wind direction, there is some quality fishing just a mile or two off the beach on our shallow patch reefs. We commonly catch 10 species or more on average and it is among my favorite types of fishing. You never know what you are going to catch next and never know if it will be 10″ or 10 pounds! One of my favorite targets is the porgy.
It is my replacement for the hogfish(which is now closed season). Beautiful, hard fighting and even better eating than our yellowtail snapper. It is an excellent match for families, yet challenging for the best of anglers.
Keeping on the funky weather theme, we also have our bridge and bayside fishing kicking into high gear. Bayside we can stay in relative calm and comfort and target mangrove snapper and spanish mackerel. It is a great balance of fast action, fast fish and good eating. On the real windy days we head to our local bridges and get to sample a bit of the ocean and bayside. It all depends on the conditions, but we catch a little of everything that both sides of our island have to offer. It is a fun and challenging fishery. I’m certain I will have a few trips there before November is finished.
In the water activities are going to be a tough call. We have had a good run of decent weather conditions, but the visibility has been limited more often than not. Given what I have seen and what is coming I think most in the water trips are going to be limited in scope and opportunity. Don’t be afraid to book a snorkeling/fishing combo trip. I always hope for the best and prepare for the worst with a realistic focus on what is most likely to be the conditions for the day of your trip. If it is good, you’re going in! I see way too many operators do it wrong in compromised conditions well below what I want for myself. I have no interest in putting you in the water unless you are going to enjoy what our waters have to offer. I sometimes have alternative options for poor conditions, Please ask if snorkeling is a huge priority to you. Moving on, lobstering trips are done for the year. Spearing is still good. Again, it is about picking the right days. All spearing trips will be rod and reel trips if the conditions do not support the activity. Just a reminder.
November is an awesome month to be on the water. Everything will be changing day to day, so sometimes it is difficult to say how my trips will unfold with detail. It is more about adapting to the changes and going with what opportunities are presented each trip. Speaking of changes, many if not most of my customers have not been on my new boat. It has been a great addition and perfect fit for my business. My goal is to always be improving what I have and can offer for my trips. Tomorrow the Sailfish should be fitted with the newest and best electronics Garmin has to offer. New dual screen GPS, radar and dual transducers will give me a great advantage in making the best decisions with the most accurate information for what is happening above and below the water. I am really proud of how far I have come the past year. I am truly blessed to be who I am doing what I do. I look forward to getting my new setup dialed in and showing you what I can do.
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