Holiday Fishing

By: Captain Terry Fisher

Normally, this is the time of year when the area ‘lights’ up with numerous visitors and returning homeowners to enjoy some of the most beautiful weather and waters that the world has to offer. Unfortunately, This December will not be the same as previous holiday venues. Hurricane Ian has made sure of that. Nonetheless, our spirits will not be broken and we will count the blessings and overcome the tragedy that virtually all of us have experienced. Our hearts and prayers go out to those that lost loved ones. Property can and will be replaced over time, so “heads up” and thank God you’re alive to experience more that life has to offer! Ian has and will in some way impact us all, some bad and some good! It is still worth reflecting on years gone by knowing that the beauty, wonderful and fulfilling experiences on and off the water will return. Our restaurants, beaches and waters will again soon be filled with clients and new visitors coming to enjoy another Christmas and New Year. It’s mostly about the experience of family, friends and business associates spending time together in a venue unlike any other. As a professional fishing guide and Charter Captain, I take great pleasure and pride to do whatever it takes to insure everyone on my ‘WATCH’, has and great time with ‘MEMORIES OF A LIFETIME’.  We will and can do it again! There are restaurants, bars and beaches available to investigate this year and by the way, the fishing has been fantastic!

December is what I call a ‘Transitional’ month in regard to the strength of currents, water levels and water temperatures, which all go hand in hand to determine the location and types of species to target. These are, in my opinion, the more crucial elements for finding and catching fish. The hurricane has changed some things up, but not to the extent that one may expect. Regardless, the basics for locating and catching fish are the same.

This begs the question; which fish species will better provide an opportunity for anglers throughout the month of December and where will they be located? The answer as always, depends on water temperature and depth. As the temperature cools, offshore species (grouper, snapper, sheepshead) are likely to move to shallower water, while Redfish and Seatrout are likely to move away from the shallows to deeper holes. Common sense that the inshore species move as the water depths get extremely low from the backcountry areas in the wintertime, to deeper locations in the grass flats (just off the channels) and around the pass cuts that offer food and protection.

POST HURRICAN IAN RECOMMENDATIONS FOR DECEMBER FISHING

Inshore: I suggest that as the cold fronts come in from the North, anglers concentrate on Sheepshead and Mangrove Snappers around the docks, seawalls and other structure using shrimps or Fiddler Crabs on small bait hooks with a small pinch weight to keep the bait close to the seabed. Fish canals and passes with Pilchards and Pinfish for Snook and big Jack Crevalle. Target Black Drum and Redfish around the east side of the outer islands in the current cuts and around docks using shrimp. Seatrout will continue to hold on the grass flats in about 4ft. of water. Spanish Mackerel should begin to make their debut in good numbers. I like to fish for them in the passes with ¾oz. silver spoons on a 40 lb. monofilament leader. Look for the birds diving inshore and just off the beaches for these toothy, fighting fish.

Offshore: look for snapper and grouper around the crab pots offshore. Many time the lines of crab pots will denote ledges that hold Gag and Black Grouper this time of year. However, Red Grouper is closed. Be aware of the changes in harvest requirements for all species in regard to length and numbers. While offshore, keep an eye out for Triple Tail on the crab buoys and around surface debris. The cooler water temperatures will push the larger reef fish closer to the coastal islands. Other than water temperature, the wind velocity will be the dominant factor as to when anglers go offshore. Look for diving birds and baitfish activity on the surface. These are the ‘telltale’ signs of fish below the surface.

During this time, be sure and be extra cautious for changes in depths from the hurricane as well as submerged objects. Below I reiterate that I am available by the hour on your vessel for safe navigational instruction (by the hour) on your vessel as well as to point out and locate new fishing spots.

Due to Hurricane Ian, the Annual Ft. Myers Boat Show at the Ft. Myers Convention Center will be held on January 5th thru 8th. First Mate Vicki and I are looking forward to seeing everyone at our FISH FACE CHARTERS BOOTH and at our inshore and offshore fishing seminars pavilion sponsored by Coastal Angler Magazine!

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