Compared with the 2022 fall kingfish season, this year was much better, with fish being available most of the month. Large schools of baitfish, primarily thread fin herring, gathered close to the beach off of Honeymoon and Caledesi Islands, and as is usually the case, this drew the kings in. Most fish were caught within 2 - 3 miles of the beach and, on some days, less than a mile out. The tried and true technique is to catch large thread fins, either by sabiki or cast net, and then slow troll them in the neighborhood of these bait schools. This was always the starting point for a typical charter. If success was not achieved within 30-40 minutes, there were 2 plan B's.  The first was to go to another area and try trolling there.  Occasionally, areas that were good in previous years that showed little, if any bait, would produce. Some fish were caught this way but the majority of the fish were found around these massive concentrations of bait near the beach. On certain days, dropping an anchor and chumming aggressively with whitebait would bring fish in. This is a bit counter-intuitive as the expectation would be that trolling the exact size bait that the fish are eating and covering large areas would logically be the most successful approach. That said, there were clearly days when anchoring and putting out a chum slick was more productive as the kings would come right to the boat...some taking baits within sight of the anglers. Exciting stuff.

Big Kingfish in CLearwater

November is a month where the tides begin to shift...with the best high tides moving to the night.  This being the case, the strategy for catching redfish changes a bit.  Where the typical summer approach is to fish the bushes on the high tides, the winter approach is more about fishing potholes on flats, during the lower phases of the tide. Redfish will retreat to the "holes" and sometimes, small packs of quality fish can be found. Cut fish bait, of almost any kind, seems to work well this time of year...with ladyfish being among the best.  Getting into an area with mullet and multiple potholes creates a good chance for success as the reds may be in with the mullet and there are multiple targets (holes) available. Interestingly, over the last few years, small lemon sharks have become a fairly common catch when fishing this way.  Although they are not as acrobatic as a blacktip, these fish will usually give a half jump or two and burn the drag pretty well.  These are very entertaining on light inshore outfits as the average lemon on the flats is typically 15 - 20 pounds.

Jumbo Winter Seatrout in St JOseph's Sound

The fish that really "feed' local Tampa Fishing Captains are the large spotted seatrout that invade St. Joseph's sound every year....and yes, they have started to show up. Finding whitebait as the weather cools becomes a bit more of a challenge but it is worth the effort to locate as these large winter trout will usually go crazy when presented with a big pilchard on a cool winter morning. These can be fished under a bobber or free-lined. Many captains fishing in the Clearwater area prefer the free-lined approach as the presentation is a bit more natural. Catching these fish is all about the weather and the tides. Although trout are among the easiest local game fish to catch, having the right bait, fishing the moving tides and fishing during stable weather patterns are all key to success. These trout should be here until mid to late March. Good luck and good fishing.


twitter share



Trip Advisor Tampa Fishing Charters

Fishing Report Sign Up

Sign up for the Tampa Fishing Charters newsletter. Stay informed of the latest Tampa fishing news, photos, and updates.

Fishing Report Sign Up

© 2016 Captain Stewart Ames, Gone Fishing Charters, Tampa, FL


© 2024 Tampa Fishing Charters