December begins the month of holiday cheer with Christmas rapidly approaching!The first week of December has given us just about a full week of breathless wind and between 66-69 degree water temps. Inshore and near shore, the visibility has been top to bottom, clear as glass, and slick calm conditions. These are the perfect recipes for sight fishing backwaters, with the negative low winter tides.
Many of the snook and redfish schools have retreated into creek mouths, rivers, and back country for the cold months. However, that doesn’t mean they aren’t looking for their next meal, they’re just a little more lethargic and not always looking to expend energy chasing baits. Therefore, switching to slower retrievals with artificials such as jerk shads, pop and stop shrimp, and crab imitators can be a great option.
As for live bait, there is still a lot of bait on the flats; so live baiting is still productive. The shrimp right now are colossal, which is great for casting distance but hinders a quiet presentation, which may send these spooky fish scurrying, especially with the recent slick conditions. On a recent fly-fishing trip even some of the heavier fly presentations 5 feet or so away sent the fish packing. One way to combat this with a live shrimp or any artificial really, is to identify the “highway” they are traveling (a certain depth, contour, grass line, pothole, etc.) and cast way in front of where the fish are traveling. This lets the fish find the bait instead of trying to present it to the fish, as you can often get away with during other times of the year or under different conditions.
The fall and winter months are historically great months for Mackerel and Kingfish near shore. However, this year produced a weak showing for both and I infer this is because of the lack of bait coming near shore due to the prominent red tide we experienced this summer that lingered all the way out to 10-15 miles off the beach for some time.
Check your tide tables and plot your courses inshore prior to your trips this time of year, fish potholes on low tide, and look for wading white birds as a good indicator of productive areas that will hold fish.
Good luck this month and Merry Christmas!
Capt. Skylar Wilks
The Suzuki Repower Fishing Report is sponsored by Mastry Suzuki Repower
Hi – I’m Captain Skylar Wilks and I am a full-time Tampa Bay Inshore Guide, residing in Madeira Beach. I grew up spending my weekends and summers fishing with my Grandparents who live across the street from the Madeira Beach Marina. In 2011, I moved a bit further south to Fort Myers and attended Florida Gulf Coast University, with a scholarship to play Division 1 soccer. When I wasn’t playing soccer, I was spending my time learning the waters and fishing in Sanibel, Estero Bay, and the Naples area. In 2015, I graduated with a degree in Business Management and moved back to Madeira Beach to launch my fishing business, Inspired Fishing Charters.