November 2023 Fishing Report
November has arrived with cooler temps, both on and off the water and with the cooler water temps, it has brought several newly arriving fish species to pursue. Fantastic action for Key West angling continues through the fall time frame.
Our offshore fishing is rapidly changing and vastly improving for light tackle action. Gone are most of the warm water species replaced with some outstanding and explosive species for the trolling fan. November typically brings red hot Kingfish action. Big “Smoker” Kingfish with numbers growing daily will be providing excellent action from the reef to well offshore. The Mackerel family is here in huge numbers in general with quality size Cero and Spanish of late.
November is an excellent time to target the action-packed Black Fin Tuna. There is nothing better than crossing paths with a school of Black Fin on the hunt…total chaos but remarkably fun. We already have had several outstanding catches of Blackfin this season. We often see a spike in the Wahoo action during November. Wahoo are fish that produce memorable takes, and long line stealing runs not soon forgotten by anglers. The iconic Sailfish begins to come to life with each cold front that pushed them south to our waters.
Unfortunately, we say goodbye for the most part to the wonderful Mahi (Dolphin fish), as the cooler water temperatures force a migration away from our local waters. In fairness it seems we always have a few Dolphin here but the most productive time frame is behind us for this year. The apex predators remain active with November being a good month for large Barracuda…Barracuda are aggressive in the cooler water temps and will provide outstanding violent strikes and great battles especially for the light tackle fans. We are moving into an exciting period for offshore, however, we believe a 1/2-day charter still has real limits for the remainder of our next few weeks/months. Our recommendation is to book at least the 3/4 day (six-hour trip) with the full day, giving us all the tools to work with for you.
Light Tackle Reef & Wreck:
November can bring some light to medium winds, however the waters on the reef verses further offshore will remain comfortable most days. This continues to be a good time for the angler with concerns about rough sea conditions to head out to the nearer shore wreck sites as well. The “reef donkey” is here in big numbers and ready to dislocate the angler’s shoulders. Amberjack fishing has already been red hot and will remain so for a couple of months now. The Cobia action remains solid with good numbers and average to larger sized fish being taken regularly through the end of November.
The Snapper family continues to produce numbers. November is not typically a great Mutton month here but of late we have had some outstanding Mutton trips…who knows if or when it may end. The Yellowtail and Mangrove numbers make up for any Mutton’s absence most days. The Grouper family will usually not disappoint for November for the table fare anglers. Our elusive Permit will still be making their presence known but will be slowing from a peak activity month in October. Always challenging, the Permit is a sought-after sport fish and prized by anglers from around the planet. November will still offer the angler a good chance for success.
Always a fun and productive trip, the back country this time of year also offers an abundance of visible marine life and tropical birds on the Mangrove Island shorelines with mirror calm, crystal clear waters. The overall population of fish in the back country remains large with several sport fish species, edible fish, and predators to target. A perfect trip for the hard-core light tackle angler to the novice angler or the family or groups numbering up to 4 anglers.
Tarpon time is over in the back country as the migration of adult fish has taken place. Remaining is our resident population of primarily juvenile Tarpon and these fish are super sensitive to changing conditions and become very “hit or miss”. Some Tarpon are still here, but we typically do not target them now! On the days when conditions are right, we have been hooking up on juvenile Tarpon, those fish to about twenty pounds or so and still great fun on light tackle. Not the Tarpon action certainly of March through July but if you happen to hit it right there is some fun to be had.
The ½-day to ¾-day morning departure trips continue to produce well. However, the afternoon water temperatures are not as high now so the later part of the day with good tides can be awesome. Permit can be pursued on the shallow patch reef and isolated shallow wrecks of the back country and the bite is good on quality size fish most days. The Redfish action kicks off during November most years while Snook on the given day continue but we would place them in the “good” to “fair range” now.
Cobia fishing continues as we locate small “wolf packs” of say two to five cruising Cobia to pursue. This is also a time of fast paced “excellent” action from the schools of BIG Jacks, including some huge Yellow Jacks continue to be red hot. Not only are the Yellow Jacks an absolute blast on light tackle and top water, but they are also delicious! Towards the middle of November, we should see the ramping up for Trout fishing. Speckled Sea Trout are already here but the action has not exploded as of now…stay tuned friends! These are one of the best “indicator” species to showcase the full transition into our fall patterns.
The Mangrove and Yellow Tail Snapper fishing remains good in the back country. For serious “table fare” harvest we definitely recommend the reef & wreck trips however to include a few “keeper” fish for lunch or dinner will not be a problem in our shallows.
The predator fishing continues. Giant Barracuda and several species of Sharks in the shallows are on the menu. Our Monster Shark charters are awesome and continually produce multiple larger sharks even on the 1/2-day trips. This is predator time so these aggressive species are always ready to go “head-to-head” so, you adrenaline junkies out there should try sight casting top water lures to cruising Barracuda!
This is a time of lowering and more stable water temperatures so good fishing conditions continue to improve from already good action, friends. We still recommend fishing morning trips if going shallow as they remain the most productive over the later afternoon hours for the serious angler. The PM half-day trips have improved and can be quite enjoyable, especially for those people just looking to stay in calm waters and enjoy a few fun hours catching fish. Reef trips in the afternoon fishing slightly deeper waters along with the patch reefs can be very good trips for later in the day departure times. Sharks are plentiful and active in the shallow waters of our back country. Pursuing these heavy weight monsters on light tackle is challenging to say the least and talk about something you cannot do at home!