Marathon Florida Keys Monthly Fishing Forecast – November 2011

One of my favorite months to fish in Marathon!

As a charter boat Captain in Marathon, I meet lots of people from just about every edge of the earth.  Through the conversation of the day, inevitably this question comes up, “What is your favorite time of year to fish?”

Without hesitation, I tell them November and May are my absolute favorite times to fish in Marathon.  To find out why I like May so much, you’ll have to stay tuned.  As for November, quite simply, we have the perfect fishing scenario.

The perfect fishing scenario

The cooling water temperatures reinvigorate our local fish.  Grouper, snapper, hogfish and more come out of their sluggish summer behavior and begin moving around.  They relocate to shallow depths where they are more easily accessible.

Additionally, cold fronts typically experienced in November push the bait fish and the pelagics from the north.  With the local fish more active and our annual visitors arriving on a daily basis, you have an angler’s dream situation.

Beginning of sailfish season

Mid-November begins the sailfish season in earnest.  The cold fronts send the ballyhoo from the cooling Gulf waters out to the edge of the reef, where the sailfish await hungrily.

As a rule, we look for frigate birds working the shallow side of the reef, in 20 to 30 feet of water, or for ballyhoo spraying the surface as they run for their lives from the marauding sailfish.

Quite often, it’s more than sailfish causing the ballyhoo to scatter.  Cobia, dolphin and large kingfish are also taking advantage of the abundance of baitfish.

As you can imagine, your best bait for catching any of these fish is a freshly caught ballyhoo pitched right at the very visible fish.  This strategy usually works through mid-morning before the action tapers off.

Now you have two choices.

Move out to the 100- to 120-foot depths, put out a spread with your live bait and drift, waiting for fish to come to you.  Or, be proactive and go to your best yellowtail spot, put the chum in the water and catch yellowtail, mutton and mangrove snapper plus all the grouper that are in on the feast as well.

Larger snapper and grouper

During November, power drifting the wrecks and artificial reefs produces good catches of large mutton snappers up to 20 pounds in addition to amberjack and hefty black, gag and red grouper.

The shallower channel humps and patch reefs come into their own this time of year thanks to the more comfortable water temperatures, and there’s an influx of outsized snapper and grouper.

Delicious hogfish

Also, hogfish make their way from the Gulf to these same areas.  A shrimp-tipped jig head, from 3/8 to ½ ounce, presented on the bottom will draw strikes from these tasty wrasses.

The same bait will tempt the snapper and grouper, and all of this makes for excellent family fishing with non-stop action.  Be sure to anchor up-tide of your desired position, put your chum in the water and wait patiently to allow the fish to come to you.

Action in the Bay

In Florida Bay, the mangrove snapper bite remains consistent around the grass banks and wrecks.  And, the Spanish mackerel will make their first appearance of the season.  There’s no better holiday hors d’oeuvres than fish dip made with smoked Spanish mackerel from Marathon!

We wish all of you a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday filled with family, friends … and hopefully some fishing!

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Capt. Chris and Christy Johnson
SeaSquared Charters
Marathon Florida Keys
305-743-5305
SeaSquared@bellsouth.net

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