During the month of December the fish are biting fast in an effort to bulk up for the quickly approaching cold weather patterns. It’s a great time to be a weather watcher, as the inshore bite will really get going when a cold front is on the way. The fish usually feed hard 18 to 24 hours out before the big weather change. The best bait is live shrimp, but a shrimp imitation will work too. Both baits will work under popping and traditional corks, but you can go “naked,” using a hook only, without weights or no floats, but just a short leader. Most spotted sea trout and flounder will take a chance on a shrimp, even if it does look a little suspicious. As I always say, once you get the bite going, it will keep rolling, so if you don’t want to buy a lot of live shrimp, just use a few to begin, and then you can easily change to artificial lures.
Looking for redfish? You’ll want to cast into the grass using Strike King’s Z TOO in the form of copper penny, baby bass, or ice flukes. My final hint for inshore fishing is this: when the water gets cooler, it gets clearer, which means that you can see the fish, but its vision improves too! So the clearer the water, the lighter the leader!
Artificial Reefs: For those that love a little light tackle fishing, December is the month to visit the artificial reefs nearer to shore. Sheepshead, black drum, trophy redfish, flounder, and cold water sharks school up on artificial reefs to bulk up for winter migrations. The best baits for sheepshead, black drum, and trophy redfish will be the purple-back fiddler and green mussels. Small pieces of shrimp will also work.
Flounder especially are known for situating themselves on the outskirts of shallower artificial reefs, waiting for the tide to go slack for that perfect meal. To catch them, use jumbo mud minnows or small sand perch placed on a Carolina-style bottom rig. Cast the bait to the outskirts of the structure, set drag to medium, engage reel clicker, place rod in holder, and let it sit until the flounder eats your bait. Whatever you do don’t pick up the rod too soon! If you’re looking to catch a shark, take along some squid or cut a belly strip out of a sheepshead and put it on the bottom near the sunken structure. There’s lots of action to be had, as long as you know where to go!
The Gulf Stream is one of those fishing opportunities that most fishermen don’t even think about. Heck, with the holiday season in full throttle, it’s easy to forget! However, if you get the chance and want to make the run off the Georgia coast, this would be a great time to find yourself involved in a strong line stretching ordeal!
The blackfin tuna run is wide open, and this is one fish that can offer a strong fight. You’ll find blackfin holding over the ledges in 180 to 250 feet of water, or, if you’re lucky you might just find a school in the upper water column, rounding up a ball of bait. If you want to fish “old school,” the best lures are uncolored, unpainted cedar plugs pre-soaked in menhaden oil. These plugs will absorb the menhaden oil quickly and will hold it longer to produce “happy fishy trails” when trolled. Trolling with bait? I suggest using Iland Tracker Lures rigged with dink (small) ballyhoo baits. The trick is to rig the lures with 60-pound test fluorocarbon and small short-shank extra-strong 4/0 to 5/0 hooks. This works especially well when rigging with dink ballyhoo.
On your way out to the Stream, don’t overlook the opportunity to pull a high speed lure, either. The best lure on the market, proven time and time again in hits and hook ups is the Ballyhood Team Banchee “Hi-Speed” lures.
Finally, here’s some fishing news you can use: Grouper season 2013 is still open until the end of this month! You still have time!
Vermilion snapper season is now open 12 months out of the year. However, always check for any fishing regulation changes before heading offshore. You can go to http://www.safmc.net/ for the latest in fishing regulations for federal waters, and go to http://coastalgadnr.org/ for fishing regulations in the Georgia state waters.
It’s time to go, because now you know! Thanks for reading!
Captain Judy Helmey Miss Judy Charters