December 15th 2018 Fishing Report
CONDITIONS: Tough to decide as to whether we’re in summer or winter these early winter days. But nobody that has escaped the frigid ravages up north is complaining. This week will be no exception. Starts off with a little rain and mild temperatures and ends with gusty winds and falling air temperatures. Those mildly chillier temperatures is what the anglers are looking for……they will help drive the water temperatures down and enhance the migration cycle of the determined spawners offshore to make their move inside. If the forecast plays out look for the water temperatures to be bouncing between 62 and 65 by week end. We are already seeing some winter fish action here…so this will enhance the action. A side factor of benefit to all here is that the cooler water temperatures will be a deterrent to any further invasion of red tide and fouled algae waters to invade our waters. With light winds through late week the sea conditions, especially offshore, should be very favorable. And lastly the tides will not be a factor this week with a moderate flow both ways that will keep ‘em feeding.
BACKWATER: Noticeable change in seasonal conditions over the past two weeks in the backwaters. Getting stable, steady action now on sheepshead, albeit most still undersized, it bodes well for the weeks and months that lie ahead. We’ve stated in prior weeks reports that there is now solid evidence that the catastrophic water quality along the Gulf edge up north, has “driven” the fish to cleaner water here. We are seeing both species and volume of fish that we haven’t seen here in some years.The cold water species lead the way. As mentioned lots of sheepshead action albeit yet small but that a key the big spawners will soon follow. Also seeing species like porgies and flounder mixed in the backwater edges where there is good current flow and loving those shrimp presented on a lindy rig as well as on the back end of a small jig. Right now the action could well be best out along the Gulf edges (Johnson Bay……Keeywadin Island…….Kice Island for all these species working that morning incoming tide. All the water temperature drops your action will be further inside (Rookery Bay …..Addison Bay) on the same baits and techniques.
NEARSHORE: Should be comfortable nearshore at least through mid week. The inshore reefs are seeing more of the “take home”sheepsheads because on the way inshore those first and second lines of reefs hold lots of bait and the sheepies are readying for reproduction and need all the energy they can get. Now, if you’re new to this domain, the use the techniques you use back home for walleye and bass…..you gotta adjust your technique. The sheepshead will approach your bait and start to nibble on it / you won’t feel it / and then after a stretch you’ll retrieve to find your shrimp or crab gone. So….give this a try. Once your bait is on the bottom do repetitive 2-3” lifts very softly…..you’ll feel a nudge. Do not yank and try to set until you feel weight. Feel weight; a solid 6” strong pull vertically and start the retrieve. Keep the rod at a 45% angle and totally steady – let the rod do the work. If you pump the rod you will slack the line and bye bye sheepie. Try it……bet you’ll land em.
OFFSHORE: Should be a good week at least for the first part of the period. Best is deep deep. If you can make it out due west at least 30 miles where you can work the yellowtail snapper and some hefty mangroves adjacent to the numerous artificial reefs as well as good action on red and gag grouper with live bait worked tight to the bottom outcroppings on a tidal drift. When you start back pick out a wreck or two in the 20 mile that the finder tells you in holding bait and tether a blue runner on wire at circa 20ft in a good chum slick for very active kingfish on their way to the winter “stomping grounds” down in the Keys. On those long trips back and forth set a lookout as you near set crab trap pots and keep an eye open for sunning tripletail. Easy: just double back quietly and work a tipped jig on the surface tight to the pot.