When the month of November rolls around, the inshore bite certainly picks up for what’s called the “Savannah Slam”…Red fish, spotted sea trout, and flounder. The secret to catching more inshore fish in these fall months is to use live shrimp as bait. All fish like shrimp because it’s easy to eat, easy to kill and is more plentiful. I’ve also found that once you get the bite going, it’s simple enough to change over to any sort of artificial shrimp pattern—rigged or not rigged DOA’s, Berkeleyscented gulps, Strike King soft baits, flukes, etc.—once a feeding frenzy starts, they’d eat your shoe if you cut it to the right size!
There are several ways to present your live shrimp, but I prefer popping corks with 3- to 4-foot leaders. The sound corks make when they are popped is similar to a shrimp flapping its tail up against its body. Put a shot weight about 1 foot above the hook to help keep the bait deep under the cork.
Traditional adjustable floats come in all sizes and also work great when trying to find the bite at different depths. Or you can “fish naked!” All you need is hook, leader, and bait!
Bottom Fishing: Bottom fishing is still open this time of year, and you can still catch grouper as well as cubera snapper, white grunt, hogfish, flounder, amberjack, almaco jack, banded rudder fish, porgy, trigger fish, black sea bass, and other large mouth hungry biters. Small vermilion, pinfish, sand perch, bluefish and rock bass work best as live bait. For those that like to use the standard old bottom fishing bait like cigar minnows or Spanish sardines or cut squid, now is the time. The best rig to catch live bait is the Sabiki gold hook rig. But whatever you use, always carry extra rigs, because they get a lot of abuse.
Trolling and Strolling: For those fishermen that don’t mind a longer ocean ride, the blue waters of the gulf hold big game fish this time of year, as the cooler western waters edge against the warmer northern-flowing waters of the stream. This edge is where smaller fish feel safe and where larger fish feed.
We’ll start with the most complicated rig option here: drag ballyhoo, ordered from smallest to largest dressed in different color skirts or rigged just plain naked. you can use them with or without chin weights.
You can also just drag the artificial stuff – believe me it works. I like pulling cedar plugs that have been soaked in menhaden oil. Forget the painted cedar plugs, though, and just go plain cedar. If you do use the painted ones, sand them down a bit to expose the wood—cedar really soaks up the fish oil and will leave a nice oily trail when trolled. I also sometimes pull small birds with artificial squid and feathers, which usually brings on a strong mahi mahi bite. The best lures to pull are black/silver and blue/silver Halcos or black with orange bottom Terminators. (YO-ZOURI bonitas lures).
Finally, if trolling doesn’t work, there is always deep water jigging for big gags and scamp grouper. The best jigs for deep water are the Williamson or Shimano® 7- to 10.5- ounce jigs. All you have to do is to drop them on the ledge, keep them close to the bottom, and work ‘em. Big bites will happen and you had better keep a strong grip on that rod! Thanks for reading!
Captain Judy Helmey of Miss Judy Charters provides inshore light tackle, fly fishing opportunities, offshore bottom and trolling, and Gulf Stream fishing. Please feel free to contact her by phone 1 912 897 4921, by [email protected] Her site missjudycharters.com features over 30,000 fish catching pictures!