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On the Water: November fishing means plenty of action

November 1, 2017
By Capt. Bill Russell , Pine Island Eagle

There should be plenty of great fishing opportunities throughout the month as cool fronts will begin to arrive dropping water temperatures. Fish are transitioning from summer to winter patterns and often with many days of mild weather caught in the middle. It's another one of those months that's possible to hook into about anything that frequents our waters.

Spotted sea trout are the mainstay of Florida's saltwater recreational fishery; they are often referred to as "the people's fish." Unlike redfish, snook, grouper or tarpon, trout are much easier to target for all anglers, and they are great on the table. Trout should be plentiful and with larger ones feeding heavily on small bait fish. Then as we near the end of the month and the water cools, shrimp and shrimp-type artificial lures could become the top baits.

November should be a great month for targeting redfish and snook throughout our inshore waters. As the water temperatures cool, snook are on the move from their summer homes around the beaches and relocating throughout the inshore estuaries. If it remains relatively warm they may be found feeding over inshore flats, oyster bars, shorelines and sand holes. If it turns cold quickly, they will seek shelter in protected areas like canals, rivers and shorelines with deeper water. The large schools of redfish that prowled the inshore flats over the last few months will move offshore or break up. It's still possible to run into a school, but most reds will be in singles, pairs or small bunches. Look for reds tailing over shallow flats on the lowest tides and in the same areas as previously mentioned for snook. Expect to see some very low tides during the day this month.

Article Photos

Marty Spepani of Bokeelia caught and released this big black drum from a large school just before the first cold front arrived last week. It was caught on a silver spoon near Bokeelia while fishing with Capt. Bill Russell.


Gag grouper season is open in state waters through the month with larger fish moving near shore and often inshore. Most anglers target grouper in the Gulf waters, but if you find some underwater structure inshore, it could hold some good fish. Docks, piers, bridges or any type of underwater debris is a good place to look, and it doesn't have to be very deep, often well less than 10 feet. Large pinfish or trolling deep diving lures are good choices for catching gags.

With large amounts of bait fish in our waters, if you want fun and action, keep your eyes open for a feeding frenzy. Often a host of different species are ganged up on the same bait pod; it's common to catch a half dozen or more different species of fish from large to small from one area. You never know what you may hook into.

As the month wears on and the water gets cooler, large sheepshead are on the move from offshore to near and inshore. Target them in the same areas mentioned for grouper, along the beaches and around deeper oyster bars. Good numbers of pompano were also noted as we closed out October. Shrimp is the top bait for both.

As the waters of southwest Florida continue to cool, there should be plenty of good fishing to keep anglers busy.

As a busy hurricane season finally comes to an end and the tourist or "busy" season begins, there is no better place to be than on the water.

If you have a fishing report or for charter information, please contact us at Gulf Coast Guide Service at 239-283-7960, on the Web at or email

Have a safe week and good fishin'.

As a native of Pine Island, Bill Russell has spent his entire life fishing and learning the waters surrounding Pine Island and as a professional fishing guide for the past 18 years.



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