If my last 48 years of making my living from the ocean tells me anything, it’s that December is when the migratory fish (kingfish, Spanish mackerel, sailfish, dolphin and blackfin tuna) move south ahead of the cold fronts that bring the cooler water temperatures. In the past we’ve counted on this cold water to bring schools of Spanish mackerel from the north down our way in the 25-foot to 60-foot depth range.
Big smoker kings show up at The Pines. That’s an area of good bottom northeast of Sebastian Inlet in 60 feet of water. Look for the sailfish, dolphin and blackfin tuna to show up on the weed lines, rips, color and temperature changes in the 120-to-240-foot range.
Also remember December is the last month of grouper season. Expect grouper to be pushing into shallower depths. The grouper in 160 feet and 240 feet will be moving into the 80-and-90 feet reefs and even as close as 60 feet. I’ve even caught them in December and January trolling deep diving plugs along the edge of the Intracoastal Waterway south of Sebastian Inlet.
This will be a good time to get that last shot at putting some grouper fillets is the freezer before the season closes end of December. Remember all this is based on cold weather moving the cold water south. So, if we get that warm December like we do sometimes with 88 degrees all the way through Christmas, expect our fishing to mimic the same routine as we had in November. It’s best to be prepared for both. That means stock up on tackle for live baiting kings, #6 sabikis for live thread fins and pilchards, live bait can really make your day, #4 extra strong treble hooks, #3 and #4 wire, 30-pound and 50-pound trolling rods and some medium ballyhoo for the dolphin, tuna and sailfish.
In case the water looks good and the fish are marking in 85 feet and 90 feet, have your bottom rods ready. I always stop there and check before heading to the deep. Have some squid and sardines ready just in case. Some call it Plan A and Plan B. We call it Plan A and Plan A because if Plan B was any good it would have been Plan A.
Three keys to success: (1) Moon phase especially when bottom fishing. I like the rise of the moon. Sometimes right up to and including the full moon; (2) Water quality, if there’s been a big swell causing dirty water all the way to 90 feet, be prepared to go deep. Look for the edges, rips and, color changes where the water goes to an emerald green or blue green to blue; (3) Wind direction if you’re trolling. West winds are tough because the edges get blown apart. I like anything from south to east to north. This will line up the edges better. If there’s no visible edge, keep your eye on your temperature gauge. You are looking for it to jump up a couple degrees over a few hundred yards. Like from 77 degrees to 79 degrees. Fish will congregate up and down this change. Always look for a show of bait. If you see flying fish, blue runners or smaller baits you can be sure there’s something hungry following them.
As always support your local tackle shops. Don’t forget if you take your kids fishing, make it fun and set an example. Thanks for reading……fish on, gotta go!
FORECAST BY: Capt. Terry Wildey
Big Easy Fishing Charters
Phone: (772) 538 – 1072