Report for Mid November ’14

Mid November ’14 Fishing Report


Key West fishing in November is completely amazing. We are seeing so many different types of species throughout our day. From snappers, trout, sharks, and jacks inshore, to sailfish, tuna, and dolphin (mahi-mahi) offshore. There are a couple different things we can do during your Key West fishing day. Many people have been enjoying the inshore snapper bite, as the environments have been not too far from the dock. Mangrove snapper make a very nice meal for the day’s end, or even for lunch at Hurricane Hole Marina after returning. A half day Key West fishing charter (backcountry) is the most cost efficient way to get out on the water, see some wildlife, get a few rods bent on some fish, and possibly create a nice meal for yourself at the end of the trip.

Bonnet head shark caught in Key West

There are some other species in the backcountry of Key West that offer a little more of a fight, but not as good to eat. These fish happen to be jacks, ladyfish, sharks, and barracuda. These species are all very good fighting fish, but none of them you would really want to eat. A few of these fish can be found in grass beds just off of some islands in the backcountry. The islands can sometimes protect us a little bit from a windier day, and add some nice visual parts of nature that we all love to see. Jacks and ladyfish seem to run together. They are zipping around in these grass basins charging at any type of bait that they can find. I like to give my anglers buck tail jigs to throw into these feeding frenzy zones. Jacks, ladyfish, and every once in a while a mackerel will slam onto your jig. It is a great time. Not only are these jacks and ladyfish fun to catch, but they also give us some shark bait for later in the day! Very bloody meat helps make for a good bait to lure a shark in from the deeper channels or expansive shallow flats.

Sharks and barracudas are definitely the top predators when fishing in the backcountry. They both live in just about all depths of backcountry waters. Barracudas like a little bit of structure for the most part, as they whip out from behind things to snatch a lonely baitfish. Barracudas are the most common on the flats around the mangrove islands in the backcountry. Fishing for barracudas can be loads of fun. Using tube lures or artificial hard baits, you are constantly casting and retrieving to lure one on. Some barracuda fishing is done by sight casting, while other times blind casting. It really depends on the spot for which way we will be fishing for barracudas. Deeper flats we blind cast and cover lots of area drifting, while shallow sand flats we wait for the perfect opportunity to throw at one. This isn’t the Key West fishing top predator though. There are many types of sharks that rule our shallow backcountry waters in November. The most popular is the lemon shark. We also see black tip, bull, hammerhead, bonnet head, and nurse sharks too. The smaller sharks sometimes jump on our lines when we are fishing in those shallow basins I was talking about. The bigger sharks though, have to be lured in with bloody bait rigged with heavy-duty tackle. I like to use a big conventional stand up fishing rod with a large big game reel. You never know what kind, or what size shark is going to bite on to your bait. Sharks get to come boat side after we have fought them out of their energy. Key West fishing pictures are now at their best for your day, after catching the whole food chain! I love November fishing in Key West just because of the amount of species you can catch in the backcountry.

Baitfish in Key WestAs for offshore and reef fishing, I typically choose the more calm days to branch out to these deeper areas. The key bait to use in this environment are pilchards, which is a small, winter exclusive bait fish. Catching these can be done by using a cast net on some of the flats around Key West. Once we have a well full of pilchards, we can branch out to the deeper fishing zones of Key West. Starting out at the reefs can be the best way to get some fish hooked up, as well as in the box for dinner! Chumming up some structure on the bottom, like coral heads, we bring up many types of different reef fish. Yellow tail snapper, gray snapper, black grouper, gag grouper, red grouper, mutton snapper, porgies and more will be awaiting for a fresh piece of bait. Also in the chum slick, you will occasionally see cero and Spanish mackerel, kingfish, and barracuda. Catching can be so good on the reefs, that you are bringing something back every time you drop down!

Past the reefs, Key West fishing in November can bring you some of the most sought after sport fish of the deep. Sailfish, black fin tuna, kingfish, wahoo, and dolphin (mahi-mahi) are all fish that are highly sought after in the blue water. Looking for the color change, I like to drift the blue water part of the current with live ballyhoo or pilchards. If I am using ballyhoo, I act like I am tarpon fishing in Key West harbor. Drifting with live baits on light tackle, mostly using circle hooks and long leader. Sometimes a bobber helps here. This is a very good technique to sneak up on these spooky pelagic sport fish. Using pilchards is another great method of targeting those pelagic fish. When finding an area that may have a bird already working, I chum out a bunch of live pilchards while I put a few of them out on hooks. This brings some of the species closer to the boat, eventually into our chum slick, then hopefully on to our hooks!

Key West fishing in November can take you many different directions. It all comes down to what you really want to go after, and what you want to possibly bring home for the day. If it is a more windy day, I would recommend going inshore or backcountry fishing. If it a day with very light breeze, I would say lets go out to the reef and beyond! This time of year the day is whatever you want to make of it. Contact us today to find out how to book your backcountry, reef, or offshore fishing trip out of Key West.Capt. Kyle with a mahi mahi