Where to Fish in November | Salt Water Sportsman

Where to Fish in November and December

Winter is coming, and as the seasons change so do the places to find your favorite saltwater species

Salt Water Sportsman has the best places for you to fish for the most popular saltwater species during November and December. With two locations per fish species, you can't go wrong abiding by this guide if you're looking for a great trip and even better catch.

 

Pacific Blue Marlin

Pacific blue marlin

Pacific blue marlin

Illustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: Ecuador
Second choice: Panama

The bite heats up in Ecuador, off Salinas, Manta and Isla de la Plata, where big-game boats sometimes raise as many as 10 blues a day this time of year. The action also gets going in Panama, once the rainy season wanes in the latter part of November, and plenty of debris washes out of coastal rivers, attracting dolphin, bonito and other forage, keeping blacks on the prowl.

 

Atlantic Blue Marlin

Atlantic blue marlin

Atlantic blue marlin

Illustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: Brazil
Second choice: Canary Islands

Now is when lots of yellowfin tuna converge on Royal Charlotte Bank off Canavieiras, Brazil, and that ensures big blues will come to the party. Expect plenty of 500- to 700-pounders to show up in area waters, along with a few bona fide granders. In the Canary Islands, boats fishing off La Gomera and Lanzarote encounter good numbers of blues until the end of the year.

 

Black Marlin

black marlin

Black marlin

Illustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: Australia
Second choice: Panama

The run of giants around Australia’s Great Barrier Reef continues through November and slowly dwindles in December. Fish Linden Bank, St. Crispin’s, Onyx and Opal reefs, Euston Light and Jenny Louise shoals for best results. In Panama, local charter operations center their efforts on floating debris gathering along the color change, as well as various underwater mounts closer to shore.

 

White Marlin

White marlin

White marlin

Illustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: Brazil
Second choice: Barbados

Brazilian waters off Vitoria remain hot, with plenty of large whites patrolling the 18-mile drop in the continental shelf. The action slows down slightly in December, but until then, visiting anglers can expect multiple hookups daily. Closer to the U.S., the annual northbound migration of whites is underway off South America’s Caribbean coast, making Barbados and Grenada prime fishing destinations.

 

Atlantic Sailfish

Atlantic sailfish

Atlantic sailfish

Illustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: Florida
Second choice: Mexico

Sailfishing is on the upswing from Stuart down to the Florida Keys as fall weather and baitfish migrations keep packs of hungry sails nearby and in a feeding mood. South of the border, a steady influx of sails spreads along Mexico’s Yucatan Channel. Expect early action to start around Contoy Bank and Isla Mujeres before boats also find a good bite closer to Cancun and Cozumel.

 

Pacific Sailfish

Pacific sailfish

Pacific sailfish

Illustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: Guatemala
Second choice: Costa Rica

Anyone looking for high numbers of Pacific sails need look no further than Iztapa and neighboring Puerto Quetzal in Guatemala, where sport-fishing fleets tally two dozen or more releases most days this time of year. In Costa Rica, the peak of the sailfish bite is still a couple of months away, but already boats out of Quepos, Los Sueños (Herradura) and Carrillo have little trouble catching six fish or more per day.

 

Striped Marlin

striped marlin

Striped marlin

Illustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: Mexico
Second choice: Australia

If it’s stripes you’re after, consider Cabo San Lucas first in November and December. Popular spots like Los Arcos, Cerro de Arena, Las Margaritas, Pozo de Cota and Migrino continue to yield high numbers. Down Under, striped marlin action off Port Stephens steadily improves over the next couple of months. Sea Rocks to the south should be particularly productive until water temperatures warm up to 77 degrees.

 

Wahoo

Wahoo

Wahoo

Illustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: Bahamas
Second choice: Bermuda

Now is when the Bahamian Out Islands, especially San Salvador and Cat, come into their own, and wahoo addicts make the trip knowing a hot bite awaits. Said islands are known for both the numbers and the size of the ’hoos. Many triple-digit-weight fish have come from these waters over the years. In Bermuda, local crews switch to live-baiting in hopes of catching some of the largest wahoo of the year.

 

Yellowfin Tuna

yellowfin tuna

Yellowfin tuna

Illustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: Bermuda
Second choice: North Carolina

Yellowfins congregate in big numbers around the offshore banks of Argus and Challenger. Slow trolling live baits pays off, but anchoring and chumming, and then drifting chunks with the chum, puts more fish in the boat. In North Carolina, fishing for yellowfins is good to great this time of year as schools of 40- to 80-pounders stage off the Outer Banks and the Crystal Coast.

 

Bluefin Tuna

bluefin tuna

Bluefin tuna

Illustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: Prince Edward Island
Second choice: North Carolina

Plenty of true giants linger north of the border, packing on the pounds in Canadian waters around Prince Edward Island before crossing the Atlantic in late December or January. But in Tar Heel waters, a fair number of 200- to 500-pounders look for a meal as close as a half-mile from shore off Beaufort Inlet and Hatteras. Baiting with big fatbacks (menhaden) or bluefish should do the trick. .

 

Bonefish

bonefish

Bonefish

Illustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: Bahamas
Second choice: Belize

The Bahamas remains atop the totem pole, as far as bonefishing is concerned. The vast protected shallows of the Abaco Marls and Andro bights are productive places to find receptive bones even during periods of cooler, windy weather. In Belize, just about any flat with a good flow of water and signs of life will harbor bones. But expect stiff breezes now, and look for mudding fish in 3 to 6 feet, if tailers aren’t around.

 

Snook

snook

Snook

Illustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: Florida
Second choice: Costa Rica

With the fall mullet run over, Florida linesiders leave open water and get closer to their wintering haunts, turning their attention to shrimp, and whatever small baitfish are present in their immediate surroundings. Fish backcountry bays during the day, and bridges or lighted docks at night. In Costa Rica, calba (aka fat snook) congregate in vast numbers in the barras in preparation for spawning. Jigging with bucktails pays off.

 

Tarpon

Tarpon

Tarpon

Illustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: Florida
Second choice: Costa Rica

Silver kings in Florida put on their feed bags and feed primarily at night, ambushing baitfish in inlets, passes, at bridges and lighted docks along the Intracoastal Waterway, and around the mouths of coastal rivers and the deeper residential canals. In Costa Rica, the mouths of Caribbean-side barras and rivers, including the Colorado, Parismina, Pacuare and Matina, and waters off the beaches between hold plenty of fish.

 

Permit

Permit

Permit

Illustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: Belize
Second choice: Florida

Without question, the best permit fishing these next couple of months takes place in Belize, where atolls like Turneffe and Glover’s, the 20-mile stretch of shoals known as Permit Alley, and countless inside flats from Ambergris to Punta Gorda continue to oblige. Miami’s Biscayne Bay and the lower Florida Keys are other good options. South Florida can’t match Belize’s numbers, but the average size is larger.

 

Red Drum

red drum

Red Drum

Illustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: Louisiana
Second choice: Florida

By now everyone knows Louisiana is the redfish capital of the world, and fishing Plaquemines Parish, in the southeast part of the state, continues to wow. Bulls huddle around outlines and shoals, like those in the Chandeleur chain, and slot-size keepers are widespread in the marshes. In Florida, Mosquito Lagoon on the Atlantic side, and Gulf-side flats and tidal creeks north of Tampa offer solid action.

 

Striped Bass

striped bass

Striped bass

Illustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: Maryland
Second choice: Delaware

As winds strengthen and temperatures begin to dip, stripers leave open water and seek refuge in the friendlier surroundings of Chesapeake Bay, where a smorgasbord of crustaceans and baitfish await, along with milder waters, to wait out the winter. Both the Maryland and Delaware sides produce solid catches, especially around the mouths of creeks and other natural funnels that make foraging easier for the bass.

 

Swordfish

swordfish

Swordfish

Illustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: Florida
Second choice: Mexico

South Florida remains the epicenter of the broadbill fishing world. Waters from Palm Beach south to the Keys continue to provide the most opportunities, in terms of both numbers and size. Weather starts to become an issue, however, as seasonal winds pick up. So small boats are wise to stick to daytime fishing. In Mexico, the depths of the Yucatan Channel offer the next best bet this time of year.

 

King Mackerel

king mackerel

King mackerel

Illustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: North Carolina
Second choice: Florida

November is the best month for big kingfish in North Carolina, and peak action often extends well into December, with lots of 30- to 50-pounders staging off the Outer Banks, feeding on anything from menhaden and small bluefish nearshore, to bonito, Spanish mackerel and even smaller kings farther out. Expect a similar scene near Key West, where monsters as big as 90 pounds have been landed in the past.

 

Bluefish

Bluefish

Bluefish

Illustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: New Jersey
Second choice: North Carolina

Schools of big blues congregate around offshore wrecks in New Jersey waters until the first couple of severe cold fronts finally push them south. Smaller 2- to 5-pounders, meanwhile, continue their attacks on baitfish schooling in various bays. Enough bluefish, however, feel the need to start their seasonal pilgrimage down the coast, and a fair number settle off North Carolina shores for the next few weeks.

 

Dolphin

mahimahi

Dolphin

Illustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: Costa Rica
Second choice: Panama

As rainy season comes to an end in late November, there’ll be plenty of debris floating out to sea along the coasts of Costa Rica and Panama, its neighbor to the south, providing extensive options for nomadic dolphin (called dorado locally) seeking both cover and forage. A run-and-gun approach pays off this time of year, when it’s common to find some big bulls and cows roaming around.

Latest


More Stories


Videos