December...where did this calendar year go? I can’t believe it’s nearly 2010. We had so much fun this year on the coastal waters of Central Florida. To date I have put in over 240 days on the water, done over 150 charters, and we have caught hundreds upon hundreds of fish. With one month left to close out the year, the conditions are setting up to make a grand finale. Multiple cold fronts have moved through settling water temperatures firmly in the 50’s and 60’s. The fall bait migration is winding down and the fish are moving towards their overwintering areas. Water levels are still higher than normal for this time of year, but within a couple weeks they should begin to fall, condensing scattered fish into big schools. Crystal clear waters are taking hold everywhere and sight fishing conditions are rating a 8-9 on a 10 point scale. Redfish, giant speckled trout, and snook will dominate our action this month, with the occasional opportunity for some baby tarpon on warming trends between fronts. The beauty of fishing in Florida is there is never a slow time, we just adapt to the weather conditions, so take advantage of it and get out on the water now.
Redfish are a staple of winter fishing on the Space Coast. In the Mosquito Lagoon redfish are still somewhat scattered because of high water. Smaller schools of 20-50 fish have been found around cold snaps as they congregate near warmer mud flats. December is still highly transitional for redfish, each day can be different from the next (read my “Moving Targets” article in the October issue of Florida Sportsman for more details about this transition). On warming trends fish have been scattered on open grass chasing the remaining mullet and pinfish. On cooling trends redfish have been condensed near sand sloughs, potholes, sand swaths against shorelines chasing shrimp and fiddler crabs. The best chance for a giant redfish for the remainder of the year is in the ICW or at Ponce Inlet. Big redfish are at Ponce in moderate numbers at as they are winding down their fall spawn cycle. In the Ponce backwaters free-lined live finger mullet or a topwater plug score on good numbers on falling tides around the oyster bars and feeder creek mouths. Cleaner waters on the incoming tide allow for trolling down shorelines searching for cruising fish or sitting on oyster/shell points. Successful anglers will gauge weather conditions and baitfish presence and adapt lures and baits accordingly regardless of location. Power fish slow rolling a swimbaits or topwater plugs. Finesse and sight cast with soft plastic Strike King Zulu and Z Too soft plastics and DOA shrimp. Shrimp flies have been the number one producer for redfish, followed by a white or black clouser. Free lining live mullet among the bait pods will take both redfish and trout. Average redfish days lately have ranged from 5-15 fish.
Speckled Trout fishing is good and improving, especially for world class fish over 10lbs in Mosquito Lagoon. Fully realize that trout season is closed and fishing for them is strictly catch and release. Colder weather has these big fish on the move and into areas they are more easily visible. From now through the spring it’s not uncommon to spot several trout each day over 10lbs, however they can be lethargic with the colder water temps.. There are two ways to score on a big trout in the winter. Take you chances sight casting to these trophy fish or wait them out with a live mullet. If you want to take you chances sight casting, a swimbait, soft plastic jerk shad, or a DOA shrimp is a good choice. Finding a school of fish and free-lining a live finger mullet will give you the best opportunity to catch a giant speckled trout. A clouser minnow or bendback are great flies to throw at fish when you spot them laid up in the sand. Ultra clear shallow water will put you on terms with the spookiest gamefish out there, so finesse and move slowly. We scored on numerous big trout over the past month with a few from 6-8lbs.
With colder weather becoming more of a regularity, Snook are on the move to the places they will call home for the winter around the Ponce Inlet backcountry. Focus efforts the remainder of the year on shorelines around deep holes and the adjacent flats where they will move during the daytime to warm up in the sunlight. Most of the time the clear water this time of the year allows for excellent sightcasting, albeit to fish that aren’t nearly as energetic as they are during the warmer months. Skip cast DOA shrimp, lightly weighted soft plastics shads, or unroll a small bendback fly to the fish you can see. Powerfish with a swimbait or Mirrolure Mirrodine. When locating snook stacked up in deep holes, slow down and work a jig or DOA terroreyez. As the batifish migration comes to an end, snook are going to exclusively focus on shrimp the remainder of the year. Baby Tarpon can be found in the remote backwaters for the remainder of the year. These fish are generally pretty grumpy with the colder water temps during the winter and may only go on a feed once or twice a day. The best chances to score on one of these 1-15lb juveniles is around warming trends between the cold fronts, this will get them up and rolling more frequently showing their location. Shrimp and glass minnows will consist of most of their diet in the winter months. Baby tarpon flies, DOA shrimp, or live shrimp will score when you can find them eating. We've found several pods lately of 10-30 fish (5-15lb fish), having several roll up on flies or short strike a DOA shrimp.
LImited dates are remaining for December. Short notice trips are available if I have the date open. Give me a call call now to reserve/book a date. Read my fishing charter page to view the top reasons why you should book your trip with me today. I look forward to fishing with you soon…386-212-4931.