FOLLOW THE FISH
Capt. Pete Rapps
Every year around this time, we see some major changes to our local fishery. Around the middle of the December we typically see our first major cold front come rolling through. We have already seen a few minor cold fronts come through in November which brought the night temperatures down into the 50’s. The fronts also brought some days where the wind hit 20+ mph. Expect Gulf water temperatures to drop down into the mid 60’s later this month.
Be extremely diligent in December, and be certain to do your homework by reviewing local tides before planning your fishing trip. We have some serious low tides predicted both around the New and Full moon phases in December. On the mornings of the 1st to the 6th, and 16th to the 20th you will wonder who let all of the water out of the drink! Every December I see aggravated anglers pacing impatiently at the launch ramp while they wait hours for enough tide to come in just so they can get their boats off the trailer. If they had only looked at the tide chart, they could have slept a few hours later. I use the tide chart on www.coastalbreezenews.com or www.SaltwaterTides.com.
The near shore flats are alive with action, and if you can get out on a beautiful sunny day without much wind, you will be rewarded with sore arms! All sorts of action fish will enthusiastically take what you bring to offer. I like to start out fishing the 3-5’ grass flats on an incoming tide with a bucktail type jig. Try using jigs with a lot of flash in the tail like a Don’s Potbelly Jig. Grab a handful because the fish go crazy over them, and will most likely tear them into pieces on you. I like to throw them using 10lb line, with 2’ of 20lb fluorocarbon leader. Trout, Reds, Snook, Mackerel, Bluefish, Ladyfish, Pompano, Jacks, and just about everything in between will hit them.
The backwaters have come alive with action too. Target Snook for some great “Catch and Release” action in the mid backwater creeks and back bays. They will most likely be hiding in the deeper mangrove root pockets waiting for their next meal to swim by on the outgoing tide. Try a Gulp Shrimp, live shrimp, or better yet some live Pilchards!
Sheepshead and Mangrove Snapper will become a regular catch on the hard oyster bottoms and deep mangrove root pockets in the Gulf side mouths of the many rivers in the 10,000 Islands. They both can be had with just a live shrimp and a little finesse.
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