MERRY CHRISTMAS! It’s sure to be cold.
With record lows expected through Monday, this will go down in the record books as one of the coldest holiday weekends on record.
For many of you who have hit the woods this time of year, you can finally wear those down-filled jackets and bibs. The rest of us will get comfortable in front of the television watching fishing programs.
With only a week or so left to chase the state’s whitewater grouper, you may have to wait until late next week or be prepared for the coldest boat trip you’ve ever taken.
Speaking of grouper, this cold weather will bring the big girls even closer to shore. As the weather plummets, the bait will suck the bottom structure. This is like the dinner bell for the gags as they prepare for their spawn. Run a shallow diving plug or bounce a baited jig across the rocks and hold one. That should be good.
Here’s a boating tip you’ll want to make sure and use this weekend: Since overnight temperatures will drop into the 20s or below, make sure you’ve drained all the water from your boat. This includes pulling all the drain plugs. In addition to the main, you probably have fresh water, bait well and fresh water tanks that need to be drained. Lines or bombs don’t take long to break when they freeze.
Otto Hough (Facebook @myhometownfishing) says: “The winter solstice arrived last Wednesday afternoon. Seemingly as an exclamation point, Ma Nature is delivering a heavy Siberian blast of truly cold and stormy winter weather for the long haul of Christmas week expected Strong northwesterly winds will blow over Apalachee Bay on Friday, remain elevated in the NWS small craft advisory range through Christmas Eve, and then they will only taper off a bit on Christmas Day. Some fisherman somewhere must have been bad, very bad, as the current marine forecast before Christmas is a bit like lumps of coal falling into the bag or on the boat!Make good use of the time on the hill.Work on the boat, trailer lights or just do some last minute Christmas shopping while exercising your patience.
Fortunately, there is some hope for the day after Christmas of pleasant fishing conditions, although still cold, but with reduced winds. This slight improvement should provide an opportunity, cold weather permitting, to try out the new fishing tackle that Santa may have left under the tree. Even if it hasn’t left anything new, Monday will be the first safe and decent day to chase fish on one of our many rivers. Along the coast, morning lows after the new moon will be negative by late morning, so stay in the rivers to chase trout, reds and sheepshead in these warmer, deeper holes and cuts. If you’re racing outside to chase the gags, take a moment to check the current wind readings from the buoy and the Weatherstem before venturing too far offshore. Either way, indoors or outdoors, present a flotation plan, layer up while wearing one of these new self-inflating PFDs that Santa may have brought you if you didn’t get that dreaded lump of coal . Above all, stay safe, navigate wisely. Then just FISH!
ISLAND OF SANT JORDI
Capt. Russ Knapp (850-653-5072) reports, “This year’s winter solstice was at 4:48 PM on Wednesday 12/21, which is great news since from now until in june the days will get longer and give you more time to fish that was the good news, the weather this weekend is the bad news as it will be cold with strong winds and on top of that it’s xmas , frankly, I suggest staying home and waiting for it to warm up next week.This weekend’s tides in the Cut have a low of -0.9 at 10am followed by a high tide at 18:00 of 3.3′, this is a big tidal swing for us and be aware that strong winds will affect things.
In the bay this week, Capt. Dan Fortunas (850 980 0101) has been catching good redfish in and around the Cut using mullet as bait on the rising tide. Capt. Dan also reports that Silver/White trout are still in the oyster flats west of the SGI bridge low rise and Sheepshead can be found around the bridge pilings. Bring “fish bites” for trout and fiddler crabs or fresh shrimp chunks for sheepshead. The expected cold front will drop water temps a lot so things could be very different next week—-be ready with plan B.
Offshore, Capt. Clint Taylor (850 370 6631) suggests after the weather warms up, take big live baits and fish for Gag Grouper as the season closes on December 31st. Wrecks and reefs should have red snapper and bass that aren’t happy to nibble on some squid and give you a nice meal.
Tip of the Week: Aluminized Myler blankets will retain 90% of your body heat and are a must to keep on your boat, especially during the cold months. They are very light, take up almost no space, are inexpensive and can make a difference in an emergency. All you have to do is Goggle marine survival blanket to find a supplier you like and cheap as they buy a bunch and give them to your friends for a Christmas present.
Captain Pat McGriff, ([email protected]) reports, “MERRY CHRISTMAS!!
Capt. Kevin Lanier of KC Sportfishing Mexico Beach, Florida (850 933 8804) reports “MERRY CHRISTMAS!
BIG BEND KAYAK REPORT
Salt Strong Coach Matt Lanier ([email protected]) tells us, “I hope everyone is ready for some very cold weather!
Last week was warm compared to what we will have for the next two weeks, and the impending cold front made the fish feed very well! Lots of solid fish caught feeding around creeks and creek mouths in a fall pattern as they were getting ready to fatten up for this coming cold weather.
With strong northerly winds and cold temperatures, it might be best to keep those kayaks dry this weekend and enjoy some family time around a warm fire or hot oven.
Strong prevailing winds, mixed with outgoing tides, will often make the water table very unpredictable.
Everyone should be resting up, gear cleaning, and getting all that fresh Christmas gear ready to hit the water after the rest of this heavy cold front passes. It’s okay to take a week off every now and then, and this could be one of those weeks. Take some time and enjoy the holidays with your family, prepare fresh holiday fishing gear for the water, stay warm and remember the reason for the season! Merry Christmas!
Capt. Paul Tire reports, “Bass fishing on Lake Seminole has been excellent in December! Bass, Striper and Crappie fishing will be even better after this cooler weather.
Largemouths have been feeding heavily on Bream, while schooling bass are feeding on Shad. Hybrids and Stripers have started their annual fall feeding and will continue into January!
We have been catching Bass on a variety of baits from Spinnerbaits and vibrating jigs to jerkbaits. A double Willow Leaf Strke King Premier Plus 1/2 oz Chartreuse and White has produced very well. This lure works well at fast speeds to generate a reaction strike. The new Strike King Thunder Cricket has been very productive this fall and I hope he continues to produce through the winter! The Strike King Thunder Cricket has amazing action and an integrated trailer that works great!
Jerk baits have worked well this fall and will continue into December. The key has been to work them quickly and at an irregular pace. As the water temperature continues to drop, slow down. Strike King KVD 200 Series and 300 Series Jerk Bait in any Shad color has also worked well. The Strike KVD series is one of my favorite Jerk Baits for its casting ability and action.
The Hybrids and Stripers have been exciting to catch and we have been averaging over 30 each morning by 10am! When fishing Stripers and Hybrids, the right action rod and a 6:3.1 gear ratio reel is important. I prefer a Temple Fork Outfitters Professional Series rod, it is a 7’6” heavy action rod and is great for catching big Stripers and Hybrids on an Alabama rig. It’s a fast-acting rod, but it’s moderate enough to handle the heavy surges you get when fighting big hybrids and Stripers. On the commercial end of the A-rigs, I prefer the 4- and 5-inch Die Dapper Bass Assassin fitted with a Saltwater Assassin jig head.
Crappie fishing has also been very good, we have been catching them on Jigs in 10 to 15 feet of water. December is an excellent month to catch BIG Crappie!
For a Lake Seminole fishing adventure, call me to check availability at 850-264-7534, follow us on Instagram @ Capt.paultyrefishing or email me at @[email protected]