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A horn of plenty.

Blue water is wide awake after a long summer's nap, and if the trend of the last few years holds, we will see many pelagics that traditionally have wintered between Fort Pierce and Palm Beach spending their winter in our area. High speed wahoo fishing has become more and more popular in our area over the last few years, and it will begin in earnest in November. For the ballyhoo pullers the chance for a double-digit release day is very much alive early in November. Sailfish will be here, but the problem sailfish hunters face here is where to start. I've spent the entire day in 400 feet of water because we raised some early fish, only to find out later a party boat caught 4 on their drift lines 20 miles inshore of me.

If, and that's a big if, we are going to see any grouper in the party grounds, November will be prime time. The problem most grouper fishermen have encountered over the last few seasons has been keeping the big red snapper off your bait. Traditional grouper baits like live cigar minnows, sardines and small pinfish have become largely obsolete. A fat red snapper is more aggressive than a gag grouper, and if they can easily get it in their mouth it'll be long gone before a gag grouper even knows it's there. Using a bigger bait, such as a Boston mackerel, or full sized grunt may pay off with a fat gag grouper.

Boats running to the east on calm days in early November need to keep their eyes peeled for manta rays. Remember the massive number of rays we saw coming through in May need to get back down south, and they often do it en masse 8 to 15 miles offshore. Cobia will be with them.

For inshore fishermen the mullet run will be starting to fade in the river, and that's okay. The biggest trout around have gotten spoiled by easy picking. That means your topwater lure stands out better, and the trout are becoming increasingly aware cold days, with little food, are approaching rapidly. Look for great early morning and late evening topwater bites. Depending on how much rain we get, look for trout closer to the inlet in November than you did in September.

Spawning redfish are finishing up their business, and most will be headed offshore. It does seem, however, as though more and more fish are staying in the river year-round. Half crabs and mullet fished on the edges of the channel will continue to produce great "picture fish." We are learning more every year about how much harder it is for a big fish to recover from release if it's taken out of the water and posed for a picture. After you get a shot of yourself with a big bull consider releasing the rest without removing them from the water.

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This year will be remembered as one of the best pompano years in recent memory for Northeast Florida anglers. They will be coming back through our area in November. Master surf fisherman Larry Finch says water clarity is the issue. "Fishing churned up dirty water is a huge waste of time. You are far better off to spend your time driving than you are fishing dirty water." Larry ranges from Fernandina to Jupiter Inlet in search of pompano and big whiting. Larry is convinced one side of any inlet will be cleaner than the other. Larry likes beaches with lots of coquina on it. That's where the sand fleas, and other tiny crustaceans live, and that's where the pompano feed. Larry says a long surf rod is also vital for pompano hunters. "Pompano love the offshore break. They will feed right in the crashing waves where sand fleas are being tossed around." Larry likes a double rig he makes himself out of 15-pound fluorocarbon. He uses a "sputnik" style sinker (usually 4 ounces) and baits his 2/0 circle hook with fresh clam on one hook, and a live sand flea on the other. The sand flea rig will have a tiny float on it to keep the flea from burying itself in the sand.

Bass fishermen are switching over from using live shrimp under docks back to topwater and standard bass lures this month. Pro bass fisherman Matt Field says there are two types of bass in play in November. Loner bass will be patrolling the outside edges of weed beds early and late, and they're well aware they need to fatten up for the winter. More social bass will be traveling in packs looking for schools of immature shad to drive to the surface. Watch for birds just like a tuna fisherman to chase schooling fish.

HUNTING Florida and South Georgia deer hunters live for November. The gun seasons started around Oct. 15 (depending on zone). After a few great early days, most big deer will turn nocturnal until the mood for love overcomes them. As hard as it is for us to understand what could make a well-seasoned buck that you've only seen on trail cameras suddenly come strolling out into the middle of a wide open field at noon, just think about your first real girlfriend, and what you went through to see her on Friday night. Yeah it's like that.

* BEST BET

NORTHEAST

Keep the other 11 months, and give me November for flounder. They are at their biggest and most aggressive in November. There are so many areas, and so many methods to catching November flatties, but they all have a few things in common. I'm convinced flounder like laying on softer mud and clay, than they do on sand. Generally speaking, you can catch them in shallower water early and late, and deeper during the day. On weekends you can forget looking for them to come up shallow, once boat traffic starts. Just like every other fish, structure is the key. Mouths of tiny feeder creeks, docks, and oyster beds near points of land will hold fish.
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Title Annotation:NORTHEAST
Author:Ryals, Rick
Publication:Florida Sportsman
Date:Nov 1, 2016
Words:1010
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