On the Water: December fishing will bring more changes
December brings cooler days around Southwest Florida that should drop water temperatures and push small baitfish offshore and south. As this occurs, shrimp will become the primary diet for most inshore fish through the winter months. There are not many fish in our coastal waters that won’t eat a shrimp; in fact, shrimp is the mainstay for most inshore species’ diet, especially through the winter. During the warm months it’s almost impossible at times to keep little bait stealers like pinfish off the line, it will get much better as the water cools.
As the temperature drops, it should give a big boost for targeting sheepshead, big pre-spawn fish move inshore with the lower temperatures. We have noticed good numbers of sheepshead over the past weeks so it is shaping up as a good year. Look for fish, with many scaling over 5 pounds, hanging around structure, including dock and bridge pilings, rock jetties along the beach, and on oyster bars. If you don’t mind fishing in the cold, then this is your fish, the colder the better for sheepshead.
Pompano are similar to sheepshead in the fact that they will not eat any type of baitfish, but feed primarily on small crustaceans including shrimp, crabs, sand fleas, etc. Quarter or 8-ounce nylon jigs tipped with a small piece of shrimp can be deadly on pompano when properly bounced across the bottom. Popular colors are white, pink and yellow. Silly Willy-style jigs have also gained a lot of popularity since being introduced. Live shrimp suspended near the bottom under a popping cork is also a great offering. Both sheepshead and pompano have relatively small mouths so it is important not to use a large hook – if you are unsure of the size, stop in at your local tackle shop and let them hook you up. I prefer 1/0 Owner Mutu Light circle hooks.
Trout fishing should remain steady to close out the year. Look for fish moving off the shallow grass flats to deeper protected areas as temperatures drop. Deep areas around oyster bars, creeks, canals and potholes are good areas to target. Redfish and snook can be found from the same area, plus larger reds can be sight-fished on the lower tides over shallow flats adjacent to deeper water. Again, shrimp is the best bait, either the real thing or any of the many imitations.
Snook season is closed; catch-and-release only, if the weather is relatively warm there could be some good snook action. Snook will transition to deeper protected waters over the month where they spend the winter. In season or not, snook are always a blast to catch, just make sure and release them quickly.
Offshore, if the month remains relatively mild, look for Spanish and king mackerel, cobia, barracuda, sharks and a variety of snapper and other bottom fish around natural and artificial reefs.
Gag grouper season also closes on Dec. 3, if you are unsure any fishing rules and regulations, go to www.myfwc.com or visit your local bait and tackle store.
As the craziness of the holiday season builds, there is no place like a day on the water to get away from the madness. There will be some great fishing opportunities as we end the year, plus if you enjoy wildlife and nature, this is as good as it gets. Even if the fish aren’t biting, I still can’t think of a better place to spend the day than with nature and tranquility, and away from the crowds.
If you have a fishing report or for charter information, please contact us at 238-283-7960, on the Web at www.fishpineisland.com or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Have a safe week and good fishin’.