[dropcap]D[/dropcap]ecember is usually the start of the winter fishing season in the Sebastian area. As the water temperatures begin spending more time below 70 degrees than above it the glamour species such as snook and tarpon become incidental catches on warm days. Trout and redfish are once again the mainstay of inshore anglers and some of the seasonal species approach the peak of their availability. For the next few months light tackle is all you need to fish the Sebastian area and it is also a great time to bring the kids for plenty of action.
The Sebastian River plays a number of roles during the winter season. To me, its main role this time of year is that of a sanctuary from the sometimes lack luster winter weather. I can slip into the river and have every cast action on jacks and ladyfish when most other anglers decide to stay home and wait for the wind to lie down and temperatures to return to Florida levels. This is great fun for family groups and jigs or live shrimp are all you need. Trout, bluefish, pompano and even a resident snook or tarpon can surprise anglers jigging the deeper areas of the north fork. Trout and reds seek shelter in the river during cold spells and can be targeted in the lower river with plugs, jigs, and live bait. Anglers looking for that last snook or tarpon of the season will find the Sebastian River the right place in December. The key is to fish the nice days when water temps get into the 70s. Last year’s warmer than average wintertime temperatures allowed my clients to continue to catch good numbers of baby tarpon in December, January and February, months that I normally wouldn’t even fish for them.
INDIAN RIVER LAGOON
Redfish get top billing in the lagoon in December. This is because the reds are very available in December, and also because as lagoon waters cool they also become clear and allow for some of the best sight fishing opportunities of the year. Flyfishermen and light tackle anglers can stalk along mangrove shorelines and get shot after shot at individual reds as well as pods of up to a dozen fish. Delicate presentation is more important than fly pattern or lure or bait choice. Seatrout fishing remains solid in December with the larger fish still preferring shallow waters and the schoolie trout beginning to group up around the edges of the flats and drop-offs of the spoil islands. The action fishing that I look forward to this time of year can also be found in these areas as well as over deeper flats. Working D.O.A. CAL Jigs in these deeper areas is a great way to tighten a line. Trout, weakfish, pompano, bluefish, jacks, ladyfish, flounder, snappers, juvenile grouper, Spanish mackerel, and whatever else decides to swim in Sebastian Inlet to enjoy the bounty of the lagoon will hit jigs, plugs and live shrimp.
Flounder take center stage at Sebastian Inlet from Thanksgiving on. Gulf flounder A.K.A. three-spot flounder, are leaving the inlet in December, but the larger southern flounder are just beginning their run. Land-bound and boating anglers both find soaking live finger mullet on areas of broken rocky/sandy bottom is the best way to put a doormat in the cooler. Flatties up to 15-pounds are an annual catch at Sebastian. Snook season will close December 15 and depending on ocean water temps legal fish can be caught right up to the deadline. Giant reds invade the inlet in December. I’m not talking about the normal 12- to 20-pounders that can be caught year round; I’m talking about 30- and 40-plus-pound fish that I believe may come down from the Carolinas with the December cold snaps. Big live baits do the trick around tide changes.
The beaches all along the Treasure Coast begin to fill up with snowbird surf fishermen in December, and for good reason. Schools of pompano cruise the troughs and sandbars along the coast hunting down sand fleas, crabs, clams, and glass minnows. Pompano, my favorite eating fish, is also an excellent gamefish. Ten-plus-foot surf rods with three hook pompano rigs is the standard technique for both pompano and the tasty whiting that share the surf with them. Live sand fleas are top bait followed by cut clams and pieces of fresh shrimp. Blues and Spanish macks will also keep surf fishermen and boaters busy along the coast in December. Cut bait, spoons, jigs and gotcha plugs are all good choices for these toothy gamesters.
Happy Holidays and Tight Lines.