Jump on the roller coaster ride called “winter cold fronts” and hang on! The fishing has remained really good the whole last month, but the location of the fish changes quite frequently with the fronts. Bayside flats during the first week of December were on fire as if it was spring with near 80 temps, and then the following week you had to search out the fish in backwaters areas and coerce them to eat. Of course with winter has come the low low tides that I mentioned last month. This can lead to extremely good fishing when you find where they all have settled down. One day with a 20 mph north wind and a -.5 low tide I found the snook and trout absolutely loaded on the edge of a channel- good timing and a quick glance off the bow led to non stop action for 2 hrs for my customers! Here is Robbie with a slot snook caught that day on a new Penn Spinfisher V 3500 with 20 lb flouro and 15lb braid and a 1/0 circle hook! He had a 76″ saltwater slam that day- not bad for coming down to visit from cold New Hampshire!
When the flats heat up during the day look for redfish, snook, and trout in the potholes mixed in the mullet schools. The fish are in pretty skinny water this time of year so moving slowly and stealthily is key. I tend to find the fish more on the backside of the mullet waiting for what has been kicked up. If you can find live whitebait don’t be afraid to throw it this time of year, yes the fish tend to transition to more crabs and shrimp, but I still find that a whitebait will do the trick. If they are sluggish just slow the bait a little in some wounding capacity. I had Jose out by himself for his 40th birthday present from his wife…and what an absolutely epic trip he had. 100 fish in 6 hrs by himself- snook, trout, redfish, flounder and a couple jacks! Here he is using the same rig as above with a big overslot redfish caught on a live whitebait!
Once that warm passed I switched it up one day and headed to target cobia and pompano. These fish can be great meals and caught on artificial when bait gets scarce. They love riding around with stingrays, manatees, and on skinny flats when the sun gets up. We were using eels and gotcha jigs for the day and had good success. As well don’t be surprised if the schools of jacks storm you and you catch some of these hard fighting beasts as well. Here is Mark with a couple full grown Florida pompano- the one on the left went over 20″!
Braving the elements and continuing to fish amidst the fronts can be quite fruitful and a great learning experience. If people say we don’t have seasons in Florida, let them know surely we do, right now it’s low-tide fishing, along with big trout, cobia, and pompano season…otherwise known as winter!