With so much focus shifting to the fall and winter hunting seasons, it’s easy to overlook some of the hottest fishing action of the year on Mississippi’s waters.

From the Gulf of Mexico to the Tennessee line, fishermen can find so many fish at a peak time of feeding activity.

Our mild climate, even at winter’s worse, allows a year-round growth period for all species of fish. The leanest months are actually those of the summer, when high water temperatures stress fish. 

November is when the conditions are ideal for fish activity — and thus for fishing. Water temperatures are cool, baitfish are migrating into the shallows and game fish are eager to build their bodies for the spring spawning seasons to follow.

Plus, down on the Gulf coast, species like redfish, speckled and white trout, sheepshead and puppy drum begin migrating from nearshore waters into inshore waters of bays and coastal river systems.

It’s a rare time when saltwater fish actually come to the angler, instead of vice versa.

With that in mind, trips to the Gulf coast dominate our list of top 5 fishing destinations for November:

1. Mixed bag on coastal bridges — Fishermen looking for a quick, easily accessible supply of fine-eating fish need look no farther than the bridge pilings along the Gulf Coast. From Pascagoula west to Bay St. Louis, there seems an endless supply of redfish, black drum and sheepshead that move up to the bridge pilings and other structures in the bays. Anglers simply have to fish around and find the hotspots. Bait shrimp and cut bait fished tight to the cover is all that is needed to produce constant action. Mixed in with the keepers, fishermen will occasionally hook up with a bull red or a big black drum that will test their skills.

2. Trout in the coastal rivers — The same migration routes that pull fish to the bridges pull speckled trout into easy reach. Speckled trout are the No. 1 game fish on the Gulf coast, and November offers a variety of ways to catch them without a long boat road. It’s a time to find them in schools under birds in the bays. Early in November, they can still be found on the artificial reefs, natural shell bottoms and oyster beds off the beaches. Later in November, behind a frigid cold front, finding large schools holding in deep holes in the Pascagoula, Biloxi, Tchoutacabouffa, Jordan and Pearl Rivers can fill a limit in a couple of hours. 

3. Flounder, Graveline Bayou — One of the few, if not the only, pristine coastal streams and estuary areas remaining along the Gulf Coast, this bayou in the lower Pascagoula River system, which dumps into the Mississippi Sound, is the No. 1 flounder hole on the Mississippi Coast. And November is a peak month for flounder in the bayou, since the fish leave the Gulf and migrate to inland waters. Fishermen who can locate an oyster bed in Graveline can usually count on taking home several fine flat fish for dinner. Market shrimp or cut bait is all that is required.

4. Bass and crappie in oxbows — Whether you prefer largemouth bass or large crappie, you can find hot action in a number of Mississippi River oxbow lakes, as well as inland Delta oxbow lakes. November is a perfect month for the oxbows, since water levels remain stable and water clarity fairly clear. Trolling deep open water for crappie is peak at the connected oxbows of Chotard and Albermarle north of Vicksburg, as well as just across the levee at nearby Eagle Lake. It’s also very good at Lake Washington about 30 miles north at Glen Alan, but the fish are much shallower. Bass fishermen score big at Lake Ferguson at Greenville, where you can find a whole new appreciation for the practice of deep cranking for largemouth. Lake Whittington is another hot oxbow for bass in November.

5. Catfishing on the Tenn-Tom — All you need to know to mop up here can be learned in this magazine, as writer Phillip Gentry takes us back to the waterway for the third time this year on his year-round Mississippi Catfish Hotspots series. This month he takes us to the Pickensville Pool — aka Aliceville Lake — where pro catfish angler Jerry Pounders shares his November secrets to finding the blues, the flatheads and the channel cats on Mississippi’s upper end of the pool.