December 11, 2015 – December 17, 2015
Finally, we have a week where things are easing back to normal, if you can call mid afternoon air temperatures of eighty degrees in mid December normal. The better normals are an absence of thunderstorms; a lessening of ripping winds and a return to average strength tides. So, hopefully, this week will be the “start of something big”. Look for the winds to lie down to at least a customary 8-12 knots and blow primarily from the east / northeast. That will be the primary factor in keeping the water clean…….at least the incoming. The outgoing could could still get tossed around and picking up some brown haze. The easing of storm conditions will also aid in cleaning the the water crucial to the early winter bite and last but not least the slower tides will enhance the catch probabilities with less raging tidal flow. So, let’s see how it goes; this coming week will be a clue as to how our important mid-winter fishing is going to work out.
Backwater species have two activity triggers …….first is cycle of the year and the second is water temperature. For example, nature is telling the bigger sheepshead spawners that this is winter and get ready to have at it and the water temperature trigger is telling them “whoa” the water temperatures are too warm so hold on. That happens for every species. And as we turn the corner into the winter solstice the fall of the water temperatures will be the key. This past week we have begun to see some winter species peek their noses out. You see nice speckled trout showing in the sea grass bottom shallow spots like West Johnson Bay edges; Addison Bay by the eastern most navigation marker and the Rookery Bay /Henderson Creek flats. Action is there using a shrimp under a popper on a shallow water drift. The whiting and seatrout are also beginning to show along the deeper holes on the ICW heading to Naples using a tipped jig to the bottom. These are two frequently overlooked species……great table fare with no regulatory size limit or bag limit. Add to the list….black drum……spawning sheepshead….flounder……to add to the continuing action on mackerel, pompano and snapper. And all that will happen when the water continues to chill down
The benefit out here on the condition change to winter hopefully will periods of reasonable east winds to keep the sea from engulfing your fishing expedition. With flat seas you’ll see the white bait explosions above the mackerel bite more clearly (and the same for the telltale diving birds). You can work those eruptions working tipped top water jigs right to the perimeter of the action pools on a fast retrieve. Could also see bluefish, jacks and little tunny in the mix working the white bait on either tide. The weather north of us in the Florida Panhandle is obviously cooler than SW Florida so the pelagics summering there are in process of heading back to the Keys…….they go through our nearshore and offshore waters and are feeding. Good chance at spots like the Five Mile Reef and the CAPRI Barges to capture one of these delectable creatures. A pinfish on stout leader and circle hook worked under chum could well do it this time of year. Average size of a cobia now would be between 20-30# and a memorable fight.
Ditto out here deep on the benefit of light winds and flat seas. Grouper has been the go-to-fish out here all year and it will continue into the winter season but only in state waters defined as 0-9 miles off the nearest point of the mainland. The Feds closed their deep water portion a couple months back. But, no sweat,…….work the range of 7-9 mile hard bottom due west of Capri Pass with a live pinfish or cut lady fish on a drift or anchored up with chum. Note: gag grouper are now closed to harvest in both domains…..state and federal.