Variety of Fish in the Fall

November 06, 2016 by Kristopher Kell

Trip Info

The Catch
Snapper (Mangrove)
Spotted Seatrout

Although there has been a persistent North/Northeast wind keeping the seas churned up, there have been a few gorgeous days allowing one to get out around the Mayport Jetties as well as the beaches. Because the water surface temps are 73-75 based on tide, the variety of species available makes for some exciting fishing. Redfish, flounder, seatrout, mangrove snapper, black drum, & most recently, sheepshead are on the list of likely catches and all can be caught on low or high tide; however, high shifting to low tide has worked best for me offering some water clarity and outflow where ambush points can be set up.
The flounder, in my opinion, are still not in full migration to offshore areas but they are getting more consistent and perhaps in the next week or two we’ll see a pick-up in size and quantity. The sheepshead…yes, there is an “s” after sheep to the dismay of some of my buddies, have been rolling in from offshore and have been great one day and elusive the next with more days offering a handful as the water temps drop.
(TTPs - Tactics, Techniques, & Procedures)
Sheepshead are peculiar fish to catch and the majority of clients I take out either hate them and express such feelings with various curses, or are absolutely addicted to the things. Again, I like the high to low shift of tide offering water clarity and current that forces fish to a certain area as opposed to a flood tide that allows for greater fish dispersion in a given area. It is also important to understand that one doesn’t have to be practically on the rocks along the jetties to catch them as some of the better places can be 20-50ft away from them. Observe the bottom structure on your fish finder and you’ll see plenty of rocks and such in deeper water that will produce sheepshead along with some black drum. If you’re not getting a consistent bite in one area, move to another because there are plenty of places to fish.
I like to vary my rigs for sheepshead and have found that they will hit one better than the other on different occasions. My favorite is the Carolina rig with a weight just heavy enough to get the line straight up and down and a small bead on the main line (20lb braid). My leader is attached via a small 80# SPRO swivel and consists of a 12” length of fluorocarbon (30#) with a 1 or 1/0 kahle hook using an offshore loop knot. Sometimes, I will use mosquito hooks instead of kahle but in either case, check your hook after each fish because their hard mouths and teeth can bend or destroy it easily. The other rig is a 14” leader with a 1/4oz sheepshead jig. These jigs are specific because they have smaller hooks and short shanks. Bait is also varied and consists of fiddler crabs, peeled shrimp, quartered blue crab, and sometimes clams.
The technique I use is to drop the bait straight down until it touches bottom, bring it up about 6-12”, hold for about 5-7 seconds, lower it back down and repeat. This helps in keeping the rigs from snagging and allows the angler to feel everything going on. The hardest thing to teach my customers is to not set the hook like a Bassmaster every time something is felt. If a bump is felt, steadily raise the rod up and feel if it is a solid pull, like a rock, or a dead weight that flops around. If it’s the latter, then set the hook with a little “sting” and not a full body lift! 
(What to Expect)
Water temps will continue to decrease which will increase the fish activity and clarity is still improving. Flounder should increase in numbers as they make their way offshore as well as trout and sheepshead. The best days to fish, in my opinion, are going to be November 8th –  10th, 15th – 17th, & 28th – 30th. 

Until next time!   
Fair Winds & Following Seas, Capt Kris Kell

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