You have to love fishing or boating in Southwest Florida in December, a week before Christmas and our daytime highs were hitting 80 degrees. Here it is a few days before Christmas, it has cooled a little, but still great weather considering. When we do get a cold front it generally only last a day or two then the bright sunny skies are back.
With the above average water temperatures Spanish mackerel that often have migrated south this late in the year are still hanging around. Look for them a short distance off the beaches (watch for birds), in Charlotte Harbor and Pine Island Sound over grass/sand bottom from 6 to 10 feet in depth, and in the passes or around the Sanibel Causeway. Live pilchards or shrimp, silver spoons and white jigs should give plenty of action. The biggest problem is keeping the ladyfish off the baits. They have been very abundant and big. If you just want to have fun fighting fish, then ladyfish are the ticket. Eventually when the temperature drops the mackerel will move further south, but in the meantime enjoy.
Anglers report hooking into a few redfish in Pine Island Sound and Matlacha Pass. Fish ranging from a small of 15 inches to larger fish pushing 28 inches were caught in sand potholes on the lowest of tides, tailing over the shallows on the rising water, and on oyster bars and mangroves shorelines on the higher water. Baits for catching the reds included shrimp, cut mullet, ladyfish and pinfish on the natural side and weedless gold spoons, suspended twitch baits and Berkley Gulps for artificials.
Catching a mess of nice trout is a good bet through the holidays. Pictured is Murray, Scott, and Tammy Wright, visiting from Minnesota. The trio caught trout for dinner while fishing along Charlotte Harbors eastern shore with Capt. Bill Russell.
On the mild days snook are still roaming the shallower water where fish up to 32 inches were caught and released while targeting reds.
Trout reports were scares for larger fish in Matlacha Pass with a higher percentage of keeper size fish caught from Pine Island Sound and the perimeter of Charlotte Harbor. Fish up to 22 inches were caught on top water lures in the skinny water around mullet schools and large concentrations of fish from 13 to 19 inches were found in sand potholes and over mottled grass/sand bottom in four to seven foot depths. Shrimp under a popping cork, white swim baits, and Mirrolure MirrOminnows were a few of the effective baits used.
Sheepshead up to 4 pounds were caught around structure at the various Gulf Passes and around the Blind Pass rocks and the Sanibel Pier. Cut fresh shrimp fished on a small J or circle hook with enough weight to keep it on bottom was the preferred rig. Whiting, flounder and pompano were also caught.
The holiday season is here and many of us have friends and family visiting from areas out of state where they just don't have the beautiful weather we come to expect in southwest Florida. Make sure you take some time and treat them to a sunny day on the water and show them what a paradise we live in.
Holiday gift certificates available.