It might be wintertime, but there are still lots of options for that summer-like bite. There is one thing that I can say about the month of December when it comes to catching fish: “It can happen!”
During this time all fish from spotted sea trout to flounder to red fish are doing what they do best, and that’s bulking up for those unpredictable cold weather patterns. It’s also a great time to be a weather watcher.
Normally the inshore bite will turn on big time when there is an approaching cold front. The fish usually feed hard about 18 to 24 hours before the big weather change.
The best natural bait is live shrimp, and the best artificial baits are those that imitate shrimp. Live shrimp will work under popping and traditional corks or just plain naked meaning using a hook only. (No weights, no floats, only a small leader.)
Most spotted sea trout and flounder will take a chance on a shrimp even if it does looks a little fishy. From a fish’s point of view, the shrimp is easy to catch, easy to eat and easy on the stomach. And once you get the bite going on the live or freshly dead shrimp, it’s easy to change to artificial such as D.O.A. plastic baits.
Another great line of artificial baits is Strike King (ZTOO) with the best colors being copper penny, baby bass or ice flukes. I suggest rigging them weedless and casting right into the grass. This makes for an interesting red fish catch. Here’s a tip you can use: when the water is cooler it’s clearer, which means if you can see the fish it most likely can see you too!
For those that love a light tackle fish catch experience, December is the month to visit the near shore artificial reefs. Sheepshead, black drum, trophy red fish, flounder and cold water sharks put these areas on their list of places to bulk up for winter migrations.
Best baits for sheepshead, black drum and trophy red fish are going to be the purple back fiddler and green mussels. Small pieces of shrimp will also work. These fish love anything wrapped in a shell or the meat that is remove from one.
Flounder are known for situating themselves on the outskirts of the structure when the tide is slack while waiting for that perfect meal. Best baits for the old flounder are jumbo mud minnows or small sand perch placed on a Carolina-style bottom rig. Placement of this bait is simple: cast to the outskirts of the structure, set drag to medium, place rod in holder, and when you get a hit whatever you do don’t pick the rod up until the flounder eats your bait. In other words, give them time to eat!
As far as the sharks go, take along some squid or cut a sheepshead belly strip out and put it on the bottom near the structure.
There’s lots of action to be had during this time, but only if you know where to go – and now you know!
Old school is the tool. This is one of those fishing opportunities that most fishermen don’t even think about. With the holiday season in “full throttle,” it’s understandable!
However, if you get the chance and want to make the run the blue water off the coast, this would be a great time to find yourself involved in a strong line stretching ordeal!
Our black fin tuna run is on wide open, and this is one fish that can offer you a strong fight. You can find these fish holding over the ledges in 180 to 250 feet of water, or you might just happen to find a school holding in the upper water column that has rounded up a school of bait.
Best lures that fit into what is called old school are cedar plugs pre-soaked in menhaden oil. I am not talking about colored cedar plugs. I am suggesting the actual cedar plug made with cedar showing not the ones that are painted. These plugs will absorb the menhaden oil quick and will hold it longer producing “happy fishy trails!”
For those fishermen that have to troll with bait, I suggest Ilander Trackers rigged with dink ballyhoo baits. The trick here is to rig the Ilander Trackers with 60-pound test fluorocarbon and small short shank extra strong 4/0 to 5/0 hooks. This style rig works well when rigging with dink (small) ballyhoo.
It’s time to go, because now you know!
Contact Miss Judy Charters in Savannah GA
Anglers, celebrities and guides took on bonefish and permit at the 22nd annual Baybone in Key Largo, Fla., in October. The event was round two of the Redbone Trilogy of tournaments raising funds to research a cure for cystic fibrosis. Baseball hall of famer Wade Boggs (left) with Capt. Steve Lamp competed against notables including NASA astronaut Bruce Melnick and former jai alai star Joey Cornblit, earning points in fly, bait and artificial categories by catching and releasing multiple combinations of the two species. The fall series concluded in November with the 25th annual Redbone Tournament. Begun in 1988 by Capt. Gary and Susan Ellis, the Redbone series has spawned nearly 30 fishing events raising more than $16 million for scientists and researchers at the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.