Most outdoor enthusiasts are thinking about deer and ducks, but fishing this month can be as good as any. The way you target fish this month will be much different. As it gets colder, fish patterns change and fishermen must adjust with them.
Inshore: For the beginning of this month, the flounder bite on the near shore wrecks should be great. Over the last couple weeks they’ve moved out of the bays and are really stacking up on the wrecks. Any of the near shore rocks, bars, passes, etc. will be good. Use bull minnows and mullet for bait. If you can’t find any live bait use fresh shrimp or bounce a gulp shrimp on the bottom with a heavy jig head. You want to try and anchor up on the spots if possible so you can get situated and get all your lines in the water and be prepared for the bite. Flounder are sometimes finicky, so you want to be still so you can better feel the bite. Use fluorocarbon leader, 20-30lb, #1 circle hook, and a short 18” leader. Important!…get there early. The flounder bring out all the divers too, so you want to beat them to the wrecks.
Traditionally, sheepshead start spawning around January-March, but they’ll start staging up this month. The best spots to really target them are around the bridges. Sheepshead are one of the softest biting fish out there, so time your fishing around slack tides so you can feel the bite and put more fish in the box. Anchor up as close as you can to a piling and bring something to scrape off the barnacles from the pilings; this attracts all kinds of fish including sheepshead. The best baits you can use are shrimp and fiddler crabs on very small hooks.
The redfish and trout bite will continue to be good all month as well. With the colder temps moving in, it will send these fish to different areas of the bay. As the water gets cooler the fish try to migrate towards creeks and river mouths. They will also get into bayous where the sand is more dark and muddy looking. They’re trying to get warm just like us, so think of that when you’re fishing. Stay out of the wind, fish deep holes, creeks and river inlets, and muddy bottom bayous, and you’ll find the fish. Once you find fish, they’re usually stacked up together, so when you catch one, stick it out for a little while. You want to use soft plastics and fish them on the bottom working them slowly. You can also use live shrimp, but you’ll be surprised how well artificials will catch them this time of year. Try to cover a lot of ground this time of year because once you find them, you’ve got them all day.
Offshore: December is usually a pretty good month for offshore fishing, you just have to watch the weather and pick the right days. On the days when you get out there, the bottom fishing is still great as is the offshore tuna bite. Fishing the offshore edges for grouper can really turn into a great day of fishing. There’s still a lot of bait stacked up on the edge and the fish will be holding tight there throughout the month. The biggest issue is catching bait which will get tougher as the weather gets colder. Your best bet is to set a pinfish trap and stock up on those. The next best thing to do is stop on the inshore wrecks just outside the pass and try to catch as many squirrelfish, ruby lips, mingos, etc. for bait.
The yellowfin and blackfin tuna bite has been going off all last month and should continue through December. Most fishing has been long range, off the mouth of the Mississippi around the big rigs, but if you can book a charter or plan a long trip, it’s been well worth it. Reports have been coming in of people catching yellowfin averaging 90- to 100-pounds with plenty of blackfins mixed in. Most people are chunking around these rigs and using standup gear. You can catch the fish on live hardtails, which you catch around the rig, or on pieces of the fish you are chunking. You can also have a lot of fun throwing poppers, diamond jigs, and butterfly jigs at them and get some unreal bites!
Keep your rods and reels out, keep the boat up and running, and go catch some fish.
For more info on fishing throughout the month of December, to book a charter, or to get you setup with tackle, make sure you stop by or give us a call at The Ships Chandler in Destin, FL, 850-837-9306.
CAPT. PETER WRIGHT, JR.
The Ships Chandler
646 E. Hwy 98
Destin, FL 32541