by Capt. Greg Stamper
Well, another year has gone, and so many great fishing memories have been made. We have got 31 days to finish up the year strong and catch more fish. The cold front bands that push through Southwest Florida will change up what we will be doing. So, on a low wind day fishing out in the Gulf of Mexico is the thing to do. On days when it's windy or the seas haven’t laid down, we’ll be fishing in the back bays and rivers. Water temperatures begin to fluctuate between cold fronts so fish will react to that.
The bays, flats, and rivers will be an excellent place to be, especially if the wind gets going. Red fishing will be good, as they do not mind the cool off much. Snook are now hanging out in the Winter haunts and will be tough to catch on days when the water temperature has dropped dramatically. Slight drops in water temperature won’t be a game-changer, but when it drops over a day or two period say 10 degrees, that’s a problem. We do have sheepshead showing up and they love the cool offs. Sheepshead will be found both in the backwaters as well as all the nearshore reefs and wrecks. Typical sheepshead baits will be shrimp, fiddler crabs, and barnacles.
Nearshore we’ll have a fun time on the nice days. We’ve got tripletail, big bull redfish, bonito, kingfish, pompano, etc. to catch. There’s still going to be plenty of bait available so no worries there. When running from place to place keep an eye out for the birds, as there going to show you where the schools of fish will be. Always have a big feather jig or your favorite swimbait rigged up. You’ve got a good chance of running into cobia now, both free-swimming and on structure.
Offshore certainly relies on the weather. When the weather is nice grouper, snapper, kingfish, and amberjacks will take up most of the offshore time. The nice part about cooling off is that the gag groupers will come in closer. Gag grouper will be caught, often trolling in 30-45 feet of water. These fish will hang out along our ledges, wrecks, and rock piles throughout the region. Trolling deep diving plugs at about 5-6 mph will get it done. Finally, if it's really nice out, a trip to 150 plus feet of water these days will give anglers chances at sailfish, tunas, and perhaps a wahoo.
Capt. Greg Stamper