Inshore, November is usually the last month that baitfish can be reliably found. Residential docks near oyster beds, grass flats, and mangroves are where fish begin to move as they search for shallow, warm water in canals and basins. Snook, redfish, black drum, sheepshead, seatrout, and flounder congregate near these structures and will all take live shrimp if pilchards are not available. If using artificial lures such as jigs, work them slower than normal as many predator fish become sluggish in the cool water.
Nearshore action gets exciting in November – cold fronts cause gag grouper to flood in from the gulf and gather on shallow structures in Tampa bay. They are big, powerful fish that can be taken with large conventional tackle and live pinfish or by trolling large-lipped diving plugs. Another winter perk is tripletail – many of these bizarre looking fish begin to move inshore and hide under crab trap buoys right off of the beaches. They can be seen from the surface and sight-casted to with a live shrimp and light spinning tackle for a great fight and tasty dinner.
Offshore fishing becomes easier as the water temperature drops because many species move into shallower waters, making a distant 20 mile run unnecessary. Kingfish can be caught in large numbers by trolling diving plugs over artificial reefs or shipwrecks from 3-9 miles. Mangrove snapper and both red and gag grouper are also dependable catches – a live shrimp or pinfish on the bottom will be the best tactic. There are plenty of cobia and barracuda around too, so keep an eye out for dark shapes on the surface while you fish. A well-placed live pinfish or blue runner will almost always result in a hookup.