November 10, 2012
What does the month of November generally mean to outdoor sportsmen in Texas? It generally means that it is time for the start of hunting season, regardless of the type – deer, duck, goose, quail, etc. But what happens to coastal fishing in November? Does the bite just “turn-off”, or do the fish leave our bay waters simply because hunting season has arrived? Absolutely not! The fish are still here, as they don’t even realize that hunting season should be an issue to them. And with you being the avid coastal angler that you are, you shouldn’t pay attention to the fact that it’s now hunting season either. Grab a fishing partner this month and give November fishing along the Coastal Bend a chance.
November is usually the first month of the year when we can honestly say that the weather is turning colder on a somewhat regular basis, and that things all over tend to slow-down as a direct result. From a fishing perspective, and since hunting season is in full swing, the amount of boat traffic on area bays will generally be slowing down, and consequently, the intense fishing pressure of the previous warm months will all of a sudden become notably less. Even the days in November will appear as if they are slowing down a bit due to the fact that the sun will begin taking a little longer each morning to rise above the horizon.
But the fish will start to do things in a much more slow-moving manner also as area bay waters continue to cool on a regular basis. The fish will start looking for an environ that suites their taste from a body temperature standpoint, probably settling within a bit deeper water just above a bottom area consisting of enough thick mud to soak-up and store warmth from the day’s sunlight hours. They’ll move around from spot to spot on an as-needed basis only, and will use just enough energy as necessary in order to forage for daily prey. In a nutshell, their bodies will naturally slow their metabolism rate so as to allow them to work and move just as little as possible as their bodies struggle to survive the colder conditions.
As anglers, we also tend to slow things down with the advent of cooler weather. One thing I do differently during the colder months is I take my time getting out on the water most days. I feel as though this gives the fish an opportunity to relocate from their overnight depths to that of adjacent and warming mud flats as the sun makes its way high into the morning sky. Another thing I slow-down on this month is the speed of my lure retrieve, regardless of whether I’m working a surface bait or a plastic tail. If I’m tossing a top water bait, I’ll try to let it sit where it lands while I attempt to count to ten. Once I start my retrieve, it will only be a brief series of three to four slow lifts of the rod tip before I again let the bait sit positively still on the water’s surface. As I mentioned earlier, these cold-water trout will be lethargic and will be moving slow, so it will be much easier for them to hit a stationary target rather than one that’s ripping across the surface. I try to practice this same level of patience whenever I’m working plastic baits across the bottom in cold water. I try moving the rod tip in a very slow, smooth, and controlled movement, all the while trying to imagine my bait dragging the mud to the point to where it is creating a small mud cloud behind the lure. The cold-water bite on plastics can sometimes be very slight in nature, so I often make it a practice to “set the hook” whenever I feel even a vague tug at the end of my line.
Another factor coastal anglers often have to take into consideration during colder months is the number of low-light hours we’re presented with at this time in the year. Not only are the days getting shorter, thereby reducing the total amount of daylight each day, but we are also much more susceptible to weather conditions that supply us with a lot of cloud cover during these months. When this happens, there are adjustments we can make in our bait presentation that can often spell success for us on those otherwise challenging, dark days. Let me explain…
Most fish are able to see their prey because they are able to pick out a silhouette as a contrast against various colored backgrounds. However, the level of contrast can depend on a lot of things like the time of day, the make-up of the bottom, the water condition, and whether it’s a cloudy day or a sunny day. Because of this, I typically spend a lot of (fun) time experimenting with different lure colors as I search for the right color or color combination. I always try to think of what my lure might look like at the depth that I’m fishing. If I’m fishing shallow I like throwing a lure with red on it, as red is the first color to be absorbed in the light spectrum. Blue is the last color to be absorbed, so I’ll toss a lure with blue on it if I’m fishing in deeper water. A lot of fish feed by looking up toward the surface of the water. In doing this, however, they have trouble distinguishing specific colors, and the contrast of the prey against the surface becomes more important. When a feeding fish is looking up, a dark silhouette, even against a dark sky, provides the maximum contrast and is attractive to predators. If I pick a lure based on contrast instead of color I have a much greater chance at getting the fish to strike. Black is the least transparent color and gives the best silhouette and is probably the most visible color under most conditions. Give it a try next time!
Regardless of the situation you may come across this month, or of the possible changes you may make to your tactics, keep in mind that just because it’s hunting season doesn’t mean you have to stop fishing altogether, especially in November, and especially along our Texas coast. Go get ‘em!
Captain Chris Martin