A mountainous journey consisting of peaks and valleys filled with some stellar and some also humbling days of fishing this time of year leads captains and anglers to the pinnacle of fall fishing where cooler air temp meets lowering water temp creating a recipe for success catching fish in late November and early December.
This is the time of year where everything from transitioning snook and redfish – retreating into creeks and rivers, to Kingfish and a surplus of Spanish mackerel terrorizing miles of beach fronts filled with bait,have been as dependable as ever.But just when you think you’re in a rhythm of consistently finding their patterns trip after trip, BOOM a cold front snaps that. You take a day or two off to let the wind settle and water clear up before heading back out only to find that the bait you’ve been catching the last 2 weeks has moved, the birds aren’t diving off the beach, and the water is now 4-5 degrees colder than it previously was. You quickly scrap your plans of running back out onto the beach where the Spanish Mackerel bite was the best its been all year, the kingfish were close to the beaches, the bull redfish would make the unexpected highlight reel, and the bait was plentiful. To now, quickly buying a few dozen shrimp and heading into the backwaters and flats in hopes of taking advantage of the negative low tides the winter has to offer thus helping pinpoint laid up fish.
After a cold front passes through it can feel like the fishing has completely shifted in a matter of days, as the water off the beach looks like chocolate milk, there are no birds crashing bait on the beach, and the shallow bottom bite isn’t on. This makes way however,for the clear water inshore to move the fish into pot holes, drop offs, and shallow, sandy bottoms that will warm up quickly, to make the inshore fishing pop off. The pinched off tail of a big winter time shrimp on a jig head or split shot can entice these redfish, gator trout, and snook to be unable to refuse picking up the easy meal.
Use these cold fronts that push through every few days to be your guide and help determine your objective for fishing on that given day. My pattern for trips this time of year include fishing the beach when a soft east wind allows, fishing docks for snapper, juvenile grouper, and redfish, as well as sheepshead fishing structure in the bay. Get out of your comfort zone this time of year and look for big fish in the shallows using the crystal clear water and negative low tides to your advantage.
Until next month,
Hi – I’m Captain Skylar Wilks and I am a full-time Tampa Bay Inshore Guide, residing in Madeira Beach. I grew up spending my weekends and summers fishing with my Grandparents who live across the street from the Madeira Beach Marina. In 2011, I moved a bit further south to Fort Myers and attended Florida Gulf Coast University, with a scholarship to play Division 1 soccer. When I wasn’t playing soccer, I was spending my time learning the waters and fishing in Sanibel, Estero Bay, and the Naples area. In 2015, I graduated with a degree in Business Management and moved back to Madeira Beach to launch my fishing business, Inspired Fishing Charters.