by Capt. Charlie Conner
December marks 19 years that I have been chartering in the area. This will be my last fishing report before I retire after next year. It has been fun and exciting over the years, and I have met so many wonderful people along the way. I will be fishing through 2022 and retire with twenty years of taking anglers on fishing adventures. Thanks to all the readers of my reports over the years and I hope you keep on catching! Thanks everyone!!
December brings on the winter months and changes fishing tactics on the river. The water temperatures continue to fall and your fishing must adjust to the weather. Water temps can dictate where you fish and how you fish. Finding water a few degrees warmer than normal can mean the difference in catching and fishing. We will get many days of breezy winds that will hinder getting to some favorite spots out there. That's one of the reasons I love fishing in this area....you can always find somewhere to fish!
Not only does the cooler weather affect the fish, it also requires us to dig out the ol' winter fishing clothes. I’m not too proud to get out the long johns on a cold winter day. Hopefully, this winter will be milder, the water quality improves, and the fishing is great for everyone. It can get pretty chilly some mornings!
Trout, redfish and snook will be targets throughout the winter. Snook season closes December 15th, but many anglers will still play catch and release with them. Fishing around bridges, docks and inlets can bring great action with snook hanging around the deeper waters of the river. Using live bait, DOA Baitbusters & TerrorEyz, jigs and bomber lures can help you catch one worthy of a photo opportunity.
Trout will tend to hang around the deeper cuts of the river. Move off to three to six feet of water for trout. Live shrimp on popping corks or DOA Deadly Combos will work the best for them. I love to work DOA CAL jerk baits or CAL Air Heads this time of year on the flats. You can also find snook and redfish hanging around those areas as well.
Pompano have already arrived in the area and not only provide great fishing action, but fantastic table fare. Spanish mackerel and bluefish will continue to hang out in their favorite haunts of the river. Fish the inlet, turning basin and channels for them.
Jack Crevalle will be traveling around in packs chasing bait all over the river. Flounder should arrive soon and hang around the inlets, docks and sandy flats of the river. Ladyfish is a great way to spend a few hours with the kids on the water.
The bridges will be holding sheephead, black drum, croakers and sand perch for those anglers. Live or dead shrimp is always the best bet from the catwalks. There is a good variety of fish to target on any given day in any kind of weather conditions.
Redfish can be found around local docks during the winter months and a live shrimp or DOA Shrimp can entice them into striking. Don't forget about the deeper cuts along the mangroves for redfish and snook in December. Using stealth is essential when fishing the shallow waters for redfish. We had very good success at finding the reds in shallow on sunny days on the grass flats. A mild winter will have them feeding in the shallows this month. It was a fantastic redfish bite all last winter and I am looking for it to be just as good this year.
Winter fishing is already here. Change your tactics with the weather and follow the water temperatures more closely to make your fishing more productive. Let’s make 2022 the year that we see improvements to the water quality in our area. If we all do our share to protect our rivers, we can insure the future generations will enjoy the same experiences we have been blessed with.
Remember, fishing is not just another hobby....it's an ADVENTURE!
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Captain Charlie Conner