Steinhatchee – December Fishing Report

Cold weather and cold water can limit fishing options, but the options still available can be very good!

Air boaters relish the cold temperatures and low tides.  Why?  Because they possess the best option to catch trout and redfish.  Winter low tides are more severe than those of summer.  It has everything to do with position of the moon relative to the earth in the northern hemisphere.  So what?  During winter, the water drains out so much that only the deepest holes in the creeks retain enough water to harbor fish.  The fish are in the proverbial barrel.  The only means to get back to the barrels is via airboat.  Casting a shrimp or chunk of cut-bait into the deeper pools is almost as effective as tossing in a half stick of dynamite.  (I’m not suggesting using dynamite.) A limit of fish can be caught faster than it takes to get to the barrel.  Tip: Dress warmly because airboats generate wind.  No, really, that’s how they move, but seriously, wear warm head and foot gear, as well as layered clothes.  Once you get cold, the fun is over.

Grouper season will end this month.  Not that grouper fishing has been that great before, thanks in part to the over-abundance of red snapper.  Historically, this is the time when trolling deep running plugs has been very effective.  Trolling on blue-bird days has led to many great grouper trips.  Tip: If water temperature is at or below 59 F, forget about trolling.

For fast action and great eats, sea bass can’t be beat.  If conditions allow, simply drift fish. Hard bottom areas are covered with the black fish.  Any type of cut-bait will work just fine.  Squid tends to be better, as it is tough, however, if you can get some octopus, it is prime.  To select out the larger sea bass, try bouncing larger jigs on the bottom, tipped with a pinch of cut-bait.  Jigging can also produce a surprise flounder.  A jig trailer hook rig makes for faster action and catch rate.  Premade rigs, by yours truly, are available at Steinhatchee Bait & Tackle, across from the boat ramp.  The rigs work very well and are great stocking stuffers.

Whatever you target, always wear layered clothing with a waterproof outer shell.  If you get wet, you will get cold.  Becoming cold is not only miserable but can bring hypothermia which is serious.  A stocking hat is necessary gear.  A hat keeps the toes warm.  Much body heat is lost from the head.  Better to retain it and send it to your feet.

Capt. Brian Smith