We are nearing the close of another great year of fishing with friends and family, making memories that last a lifetime. This is the time of year when we show thanks and appreciation to the people we have around us. December should play out like previous December barring any unseasonably colder weather. Snook fishing will slow down as they prepare for the winter. The redfish action should stay consistent, as they are not affected by the cooler weather. Big trout will invade our flats as temperatures fall. Sheepshead will school up preparing for spawn in the coming months. Flounder will also be a target species as temperatures fall. The key to a successful month is to be flexible with the changing weather.
The redfish action along the Southshore has been hot the last few months. Look for things to slow down a little, but the action should stay consistent. I have had a ton of success this year fishing the schools of mullet. Most anywhere along the Southshore you can find mullet. Where there are mullet, most of the time there are redfish. Bait is hard to come by this time of year, so shrimp and artificial lures are great alternatives. I like to tail hook a live shrimp with a 1/0 Daiichi circle hook and 25lb Ohero Fluorocarbon leader. A small split shot may be needed to increase your casting distance. Gulp! shrimp and D.O.A shrimp are my go-to artificial baits. The key is to slow down your presentation.
The big “Gator” trout have started to show up on our flats along with plenty of smaller ones. I like to find a flat with good grass and plenty of potholes. Work the edges of as many potholes as you can and you are sure to find some quality fish. Trout are a good species to work on your artificial bait skills because they are easy to fool. One good way is a Gulp! shrimp on a popping cork. Just cast out and pop the cork. The popping sound will draw the trout’s attention and you are sure to hook up. This is a great way to get kids into fishing. Trout no longer have a closed season. They don’t freeze well so only take what you plan on eating and use a dehooker for the ones you release.
As long as the water temperatures don’t get too cold too quick, we can enjoy catch and release snook fishing all month. All the rivers in our area (Hillsborough, Palm, Alafia, Little Manatee) will have plenty of snook this month. Free lined shrimp with a 1/0 Daiichi circle hook with a 30lb Ohero Fluorocarbon leader is a great winter time bait. A D.O.A. shrimp and Gulp! shrimp are also two great winter time baits. The key is to work the baits extremely slow. You want the shrimp to look as natural as possible. Handle each fish with extreme care for a safe release.
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Flounder are almost a forgotten species for me. They are fun to catch and offer excellent table fare. This is a great time of year to target them. Areas with hard bottoms adjacent to the grass flats are a great place to start. A live shrimp on a ¼ ounce jig head fished on the bottom is a great set up. Sheepshead should start to school up around docks, rock piles, and ledges. Live shrimp or sand fleas fished on a jig head will work great. If temperatures drop fast and get cold, look for fish around our power plant.