Growing up in Miami, I wasn’t familiar with the term “thermal underwear”. It is only something I discovered as I began my guiding carrier way back in 2002. December can be one of our coldest months of the year and it is a very weather dependent month in respects to fishing.
During the fall, we see lots of bait move into the Keys, bringing with it many hungry species. This past fall was no exception. As temperatures start to cool off further and cold fronts begin regularly moving through, the shrimp start running more frequently. This means that, during bait trips, I start fishing with more live shrimp than baitfish and the same can be said for the fly patterns I commonly utilize; more shrimp than baitfish. Basically EVERYTHING EATS SHRIMP.
During December, I spend most of my time either fishing the Oceanside flats for bonefish, permit, and the occasional small tarpon, or you can find me deep in the backcountry of Everglades National Park. When fishing the backcountry of ENP, or what I call ‘The Dirty”, due to the typically muddy water, fish hunt more on smell than sight. This means multiple species can be caught by just simply fishing shrimp on the bottom, leading to lots of rod bending fun. Species like sheepshead, snapper, jacks, redfish, snook, tarpon, and some of the largest black drum of the year can all be caught, sometimes in the same spot. For these trips, I typically trailer my boat to Flamingo rather than take the bumpy ride across Florida Bay, giving my anglers more time for fishing and less time running.
While December is not a month known for great bonefishing you can have some fantastic days fishing the Oceanside of Key Largo this month. This type of fishing is extremely dependent on the weather conditions, so I inform my clients that having some flexibility to adjust their days of fishing due to the weather, is very beneficial. Bonefish move south in big schools as the barometer drops and water temperatures cool down, making the Oceanside flats a prime area to intercept these traveling schools. Permit and small tarpon can also be found, but not like the numbers of bonefish, giving anglers a shot at a “Flats Slam”. While not a typical target species, many flats hold barracuda of varying sizes that can break up the downtime between schools of bonefish.
Next month is your opportunity to fish the 2017 Islamorada Sailfly Tournament; strictly an all release team event that begins January 10th with a kick off party/Capt. Meeting, followed by two days of competitive tournament fishing. For more info contact Sandy Moret at (305) 664-5423 or email@example.com. Hope to see you there!
For those of you who know me, know that to me, fishing is more than just a game, it is a way of life. So fish hard and fish often!
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