November did better than October in its attempt to get us out of the slump that is traditionally started by the first major storm that sends big swells our way every year. The nearshore fishing was phenomenal with big red drum and sharks. Toward the end of the month the surf was ablaze with pompano, black drum, sheepshead and permit. We also started to see the king mackerel bite turn on offshore and like I always say “when the king is happy, everything is happy.” A few black fin tuna, cobia and sailfish were mixed in with the kings. We also started to see great bottom fishing in 100ft or less toward the end of the month with mangrove, mutton, vermilion snapper and like always red snapper but not too many grouper.
Here we go! Right this minute we are at the pinnacle for a lot of species we find in nearshore waters. The surf, jetties, piers, basins and sea walls are all just as good as it can possibly get right this very minute. The pompano are here along with the smaller, eating-size black drum and nice size sheepshead. We still have some flounder in the mix being caught while targeting the pompano and drum. A live finger mullet to a short sliding sinker rig will still have you putting solid numbers of flounder in the boat along with some slot size red drum and plenty of snook. The snook bite is crazy right now for those willing to fish the evening tide changes and have time to catch plenty of live bait ahead of time. Spanish mackerel and bluefish are up and down the beach, and for those that like to throw lures, you can’t beat the fast pace action they provide. Nice size triple tail are holding on everything and anything but you need to be the first to the game if you’re fishing all the common structure such as the channel buoys.
The big bull red drum, sharks and big bottom rays are plentiful for those just wanting a great fight and catching them is simple. Just sit, relax and wait with some cut bait soaking on the bottom and it will happen. You will need to be ready with a cobia jig or live bait because the big bottom rays that are occasionally caught while fishing for the reds can have a bonus cobia or 2 with them.
The only thing missing is the pogy pods. Where are they? I do not know the answer to this question and I absolutely hate the fact that they have not shown yet. Hopefully they show up any day now, and if they do, the fishing is going to the next level and that level is WOT.
I know I am a broken record but December is when the king is at its happiest and we all know by now what it means when the king is happy. December might be the very best month for fishing out of Cocoa Beach and Port Canaveral. If we never had choppy sea conditions to deal with in December, it would be hands down the very best month. I know I keep referring to king mackerel and many that read my reports probably think that is all I like to fish for or that I am obsessed with kingfish. The reason for this is that the king mackerel is the perfect indicator fish on so many levels. Many species that we target are temperature oriented and even more are visual (meaning the water clarity), while many other species are bait oriented. All these factors go hand in hand but the king falls right in the middle, so when we are catching good numbers of kings, then there is a good chance we can catch a wide variety of other species. Mixed in with the kings will be tuna, cobia, sailfish, wahoo and mahi. Yes, you can increase your odds at all these other species by changing up techniques such as working dredges just offshore the ledge to increase your odds at tuna and sailfish, or high speed troll to increase your chances at wahoo, but the most important thing to know is all these species will be in the same area as the all mighty king mackerel.
Bottom fishing will be really good this month and you have two different game plans to choose from for a successful day. In my opinion the best option is to fish the main reefs and wrecks in 120 ft or less and absolutely bomb the place. This style of bottom fishing works best on anchor, but literally just get as much bait in the water as possible. Chicken rigs, knocker rigs, sliding sinker rigs, float lines. Use squid, shrimp, cut bait, whole sardines, live bait. The goal is to make a mini party boat and if anyone has been watching the catches roll in off the Ocean Obsession party fishing boat, you will understand why. Mangrove snappers, vermilion snappers, lane snappers, mutton snappers, trigger fish, cobia and the occasional grouper. Yes you will have plenty of red snapper, sharpnose sharks, and small sea bass and grunts to deal with, but this is strictly a numbers game. The more bait down, the better — and if you fish hard all day, the fish box will show it.
Option number two is to just go big or go home. First off you will need to load the live well with any large live bait you can easily get your hands on. Croakers, pin fish, blue runners, grunts, etc. The bigger the baits, the better. The set up drifts in a 120 to 200ft and work it all day. You will have plenty of red snapper to deal with, but throughout the day you might get a half dozen shots or so at grouper, so hopefully you capitalize and end up sitting pretty.
Merry Christmas and Happy Fishmas!