Even though it is “Last Call” for most boat owners, if your marina forces you to vacate by the end of October you shouldn’t stop fishing. It’s a great time to jump aboard some great charter and head boats that advertise with LI Boating. November can be very productive, as everything from porgies to tuna can be found during the month of November. For those of us still running our own boats, November has been a great month in the past. Yep, it gets cold but find yourself a bass/blues blitz and you would be shocked at how quick the body warms up. I will be fishing all the way to the bitter end of striper season (12/15).
With early October ocean temps still close to 70, November may be a great month for striper fishing. As I look back through my fishing logs it seems that bass hang around the south shore of Long Island until ocean temperatures head into the low 50’s. Last year was a bass run that a lot of us that fish the Great South Bay will never forget. The bay was loaded with bass and bait. There was no need to “run the beach” looking for bass. They all seemed to be on the inside. If that doesn’t happen again, I will be back outside looking for birds. I can’t stress enough how important a good pair of binoculars are when you are out on the water. You may be amazed at just how much farther you can spot birds with fish bursting underneath them looking through binoculars. If you are chasing birds and bass in the ocean please keep in mind that you are not allowed to possess or target striped bass in federal waters. Federal waters start 3 miles from shore. Most if not all GPS units will have a dotted line which represents the start of federal waters. Make sure you are on the north side of that line when fishing for bass. Along with the bass you will find some gator-sized blues. When bass and blues are mixed together I like to use 60LB flouro-carbon leader. If you use a wire leader the bass will be able to see it and you will most likely end up catching just blues. It’s also very important to check your leader quite often. Those blues can nick up the leader and that will eventually lead to you losing the jig.
Early in the month of November you will find blackfish at most south shore bridges. If you fish around the Fire Island area don’t forget to check the two artificial reefs within the bay. The Kismet Reef is 10 acres, and it is located in-between Kismet and the Fire Island light house. To the west of the Kismet Reef you will find the Fisherman Reef. This reef is 7 acres and is located just east of the Robert Moses Coast Guard station. Another great area to look for these toothy critters would be around inlet jetties. If you plan on fishing the jetties check your tide tables and fish around slack tide. When it comes to blackfishing I always use either Fiddler Crabs or Green Crabs. I have never had success with any artificial baits. Whichever crab you use make sure that your hook is exposed. Once you feel a slight tug, lower your rod to put some slack in your line. As the blackfish uses his back “crushers” in his mouth he is going to spit it out if he feels tension from the line. I usually wait about 5 seconds after I dropped the rod tip to set the hook. It sounds simple, but patience is the key. As the month begins to fade the blackfish begin to move out. The end of November is a great time to hit your local reef. It’s also a great time to hop on a charter boat or head boat and let them put you over some nice structure. Remember to be good at blackfishing, I have learned that you need to first master the art of staying anchored over structure. It takes practice especially as you fish in deeper water.
Don’t expect to find a lot of porgy and black seabass action on your local reefs or around some of the areas bridges. This time of the year they begin to migrate and head for deeper water. The good news is federal black seabass season re-opens on October 22nd. If temperatures are running warm you can find these fish on most of the offshore wrecks that are in the 125-200 depth range. As winter sets in these fish head for much deeper waters. Don’t be surprised if you have a few cod in the mix as they begin to move in. I have basically given up fishing for seabass with bait. With 15” now being legal sized seabass, a fish that size will have no problem attacking a 5 or 6 ounce diamond jig. As a bonus you don’t have the mess that clams make.
If temperatures are slow to cool, plan a day looking for either a thresher or a mako. Before you head to your favorite shark spot spend some time looking for some live bluefish to use as bait. You can filet it or better yet fish it live.
Offshore can be very productive in November. However I don’t have a lot of hope. I have to be honest, 2016 was a terrible offshore season. It seems as if the yellowfin and bigeye tuna never showed up. This past season was a very windy. It seems as if we never had calm seas for more than 2 consecutive days. On top of the wind, it seemed as if every day they were calling for thunderstorms. The one bright spot that boats reported was the amount of both blue and white marlin. I realize you’re not putting fish in the box but if hooking a marlin doesn’t excite you should check for a pulse. It is possible that you may run into a great bluefin tuna bite while offshore, it all depends on the migration pattern they take. Last November and December saw several giants taken. If you are heading deep that time of the year please make sure you have survival suits on board.
If you end up fishing the ocean make sure you bring a couple of set-ups that can handle a surprise bluefin tuna bite. This time of the year they can virtually pop up anywhere. A few were caught earlier this year on bunker pods in 60 feet of water. You may also want to bring some sibiki rigs. This is the time of the year when mackerel and herring usually start show up. You can eat them, can them, or use them for bait. I usually throw a bunch of them in my bait freezer and put them in my crab traps the following year.