Capt. Rick Davidson, Editor (firstname.lastname@example.org
Fishing Report NOVEMBER 2020
We’ve had a remarkable mild winter so far, but high winds kept many of us off the water this past month. But when the winds died down, the fishing was spectacular. Both offshore and inshore, the fish were there and available. The water temperatures were right in the strike zone and lots of fish came into the docks. We had some amazing redfish catches as the larger fish began schooling for their offshore migration. Lots of oversized fish were released. Keeper sized fish moved into creeks and were found around rocky areas and oyster bars. Trout were found at all depths. Schools of keeper trout were found in four to six feet of water, mixed in with lots of Spanish mackerel and bluefish in and around schools of migrating whitebait. Near the end of the month we found keeper trout on the flats hitting topwater plugs, but lots were taken on live shrimp and jigs. Gag and red grouper as well as kingfish were brought in; the relatively warm water kept the best grouper fishing in waters deeper than 40 feet. Check the pictures below for some fish caught this month at the Sea Hag.
Things are likely to change this month. We’re already forecast to have the coldest weather of the season during the first week of December, although it’s a quick front. In spite of cold temperatures, serious fishermen love December. Inshore, the big anticipation is the arrival of trout in the river. During the last week of November, some fine trout were caught in the river, so it’s only a matter of time before schools move into the river and the channel will be full of anglers. Fishing the Steinhatchee River during a winter trout run is great fun, once you get used to the fact that the river will be jammed with boats. Courtesy is important, and spend some time anchoring appropriately so that you are not in the channel. This can be a challenge, because most of the fish are found in the channel and deeper water around it. Additionally, the best fishing is frequently near the mouth of the river between markers 19 and 26. As the temperature gets colder, into the 30’s, the fish may move further upriver. One way to locate fish is to slow-troll the classic 52M MirrOlures in the channel. When you find one, pull to the side of the channel and anchor carefully. I’ve always found river fishing to be most productive either casting sinking plugs such as the MirrOlure or Live Target lures, free-lining live shrimp with some split-shot to keep them near the bottom, or ¼ oz. jigheads with Gulp tails or DOA shrimp in the ¼ or ½ oz. size. Attach them with light fluorocarbon leader. Throw your lure or bait upcurrent into the channel and allow it to sink as deeply as possible, working the plugs with nothing more than the occasional twitch. Remember that much of the area that holds the most trout is also the rocky part of the river, so be prepared to lose rigs on the bottom. Trout in the river are frequently variable in size; I’ve caught some 26-inchers right next to short fish, but remember that regulations are enforced year-round, and you may very well be checked for short fish. Because of shrinkage, it’s wise to only keep fish that are nearly 16 inches in length, just to give yourself some leeway; short trout can make for a very expensive meal. Fishing with shrimp, you may also find some nice croakers, black drum and redfish in the river rocky areas. Offshore, the late season may keep the kingfish around longer than usual as they are very active in late November. The gag grouper bite will continue to be excellent. Trolling lipped plugs is a great way to locate fish but in the wintertime, large gags may not chase plugs and you may find live pinfish or dead bait such as squid or threadfins to be more productive. When bottom fishing for grouper, make sure you put out a live bait of some kind with a stinger rig (if you’re not sure what this is, you can buy them pre-made at the Ship’s Store) because this will often provide you with some fine kingfish. Nearshore, Spanish mackerel will stay much longer than the kingfish and some will be available all winter. Troll slowly with spoons or jigs to locate mackerel in 10 to 15 feet of water. Keep in touch with the Sea Hag Marina for the most up-to-date information. As always, you can find rods and reels, live and dead bait, chum, terminal tackle and a huge selection of plugs, spoons and Gulp plastics at our store. If you are not familiar with our area, we have a great bunch of inshore and offshore guides who will put you on fish; you can find them here: http://seahag.com/guide-information/
There is one fun tournament in December, the Egg Nog Open on December 12. There’s a mandatory captain’s meeting the evening before at 7PM at the marina. Here are some pics from November.