I happened to glance at my article from last November. As it turns out this November is setting up to be just like last November. Tons of bait and really warm water to start the month of October. If it holds true, boy are we in for some great bass fishing. I also looked back on my website (fishgaak.com) and saw that I fished 15 days during the month of November in 2016. It was silly fishing. If you made it out around the Moriches area you were rewarded with striped bass, bluefish and albie blitzes that seemed to last all day. So bundle up and enjoy some late fall fishing that might bring us to the close of bass season in December.
Perhaps this is your first year at running the beaches looking for fish. If so here is what you must have on your boat. Binoculars, I can’t stress this enough. Look to the sky to find your fish. Keep your eyes peeled for bird action. Turns, Seagulls and Gannets will lead you to the fish. Turns and Seagulls will be on the smaller bait such as bay anchovies, spearing, mullet and peanut bunker. Gannets will be on bigger baits such as mackerel and herring. Quite often the bigger fish will be found under the larger baits. So if you are really out for quality over quantity I suggest you focus on the Gannets. 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.
Another must have, diamond jigs. I prefer jigs WITHOUT tubes on the hooks. When fall species are gorging on sand eels there is no better way to match the hatch then the use of an old school 6 ounce diamond jig. If you want to catch more fish, you can’t be lazy while jigging. Do not bounce your jig off the bottom. You will catch less bass and you will end up catching skates, sea robins and dogfish. Drop the jig down to the bottom and reel three quarters of the way up and repeat.
Swim shads are another must have. You already have the water column covered using jigs if the bass are staying deep feeding on sand eels, and with the use of swim shads you now have the surface covered if bass are blitzing baits in the top. There are many different types of swim shads out there. I personally use a Tsunami brand 6 inch pearl color swim shad. The weight of the lure allows it to be casted a good distance and it allows it to swim just below the surface to mimic a fleeing bait fish.
You will also need treble hooks. If the bass are feeding on adult bunker the best way to catch them is the use of a weighted treble hook. I use a very large one. I believe the hooks are 10/0. I like the size for two reasons. First, the weight of the treble hook forces your snagged bunker down below the bunker school. This is where the bass are usually positioned when feeding on a bunker pod. Second, because of the size of the treble hook, very rarely will you end up with a gut hooked bass. If you do have a keeper in the box, I suggest you snag a bunker and place him on a circle hook. This will ensure that no more bass will be killed.
If bluefish are still around then wire leader is a must. These bluefish are the big ones. They usually range in weight from 14-20 pounds with some going into the mid-20s. If you come across a school of feeding bluefish you are going to lose a lot of gear if you are trying to land these fish without the use of wire leader. If blues are around stick with diamond jigs. Your swim shads will be one and done. Just keep in mind if the bluefish are mixed in with the bass your hook up ratio for bass will decrease because of the use of wire leader.
If albies are around then make sure you have epoxy jigs or something similar. The jigs I use are made by Hogy Lures. These albies will be on small baitfish. So you may get lucky once or twice throwing a swim shad but if you really want to increase your catch you need to match the hatch. These epoxy jigs do a great job doing that. You need to reel fast. Just like the rest of the tunas these fish have great eyesight. If your retrieval is too slow they will detect something is wrong.
I also make sure I don’t leave the dock without a much larger spinning set up that I have rigged for bluefin tuna. You never know where their migration back down south may occur. My tuna setup is rigged with a popper just in case I see tuna busting the surface. I very rarely use a popper in the ocean for bass and bluefish this time of the year. I think most of the time the popper just looks out of place. It does a bad job matching the hatch.
If you can’t find action along the beach, Black Seabass in federal waters re-open. To be honest I wouldn’t bother looking for these tasty creatures within sight of land. Usually by November these fish are migrating to deeper water. I like using clam and an artificial swim bait on a hi-lo rig. If you don’t have the means to run deep you are in luck. Blackfish season will be in full swing. You should be able to find these fish in much shallower water. If the water continues to stay warm fish your local bridges and reef for these hard fighting fish. While bottom fishing you may also run into porgies, ling and even some cod.
The early part of the month will allow you one last shot at a mako or thresher. As water temps dip into the 50’s these sharks head for warmer weather. The 20 fathom line has been a hot spot all along the south shore. If you plan on sharking take time earlier in the day to find some live bluefish. A live bluefish or a fresh bluefish filet are some of the best shark bait that you can use.
The November tuna bite could be red hot. It gets a little harder planning trips as the day has less sun light and the weather is a little more unstable. By this time of the year the mahi that you find offshore will be big. They grow on average an inch a week. A 22 pound fish will only be one year old. Hitting all of the offshore lobster pots will help put some meat in the boat. Along with yellowfin, bigeye, and longfin tuna you may encounter bluefin tuna as they migrate back down to the south.