It has been another stellar year of fishing for us here in our little slice of paradise! Here’s hoping you’ve had your share of great catches.
As the water temperature drops and food resources disappear from the shallow grass flats, trout will begin to work their way back toward deeper bayous where they can escape the cold and the mullet and bull minnows are abundant. They’ll stay in and around these bayous until spring when the water warms and bait fish return. Trout often school up by the hundreds in some pretty small areas so, once you get into them, expect non-stop action. Most fish will be at or slightly below the legal slot size but there will be some great fish in the mix. Sometimes, you’ll need to work through the smaller fish or target the edges of the school where the bigger fish tend to lay up. Big trout are known to prey on smaller trout just the same as they would a mullet or pinfish.
Redfish are much more hardy and resistant to the cold, so you can find them grazing the flats throughout the year. Reds also have a more varied diet and will root around in the sand and mud looking for buried shrimp, crabs, sand eels and marine worms. I’ve been targeting them in clear, shallow water on the outside edges of the grass in slightly deeper sand troughs on the flats and points outside of bayous and creeks. Clear water is the norm for the cool months and I recommend downsizing every aspect of your gear – from the rod and reel all the way down to the size of the lure and especially the size of the leader. Since there are only a handful of spots in the bays that have structure, 8-10 pound leader is plenty and will get you a lot more bites. Small hair and soft plastic jigs, spoons, plugs and a variety of live baits are all effective offerings that should lead to success.
The flounder bite is still going strong as they work their way out toward the gulf. While a lot of anglers are doing really well fishing nearshore structures, I’m a flats guy so I prefer to target them in shallow water as I’m fishing for other species. Flounder like to lay up in many of the same places where redfish cruise, so potholes, edges where sand or mud meets grass, sandy drop-offs, oyster bars and inshore structures are all good spots to check. When you catch one, be sure to slow down and fish the area thoroughly because more flounder are probably concentrated in that area. Bouncing jigs off the bottom is my preferred method but using shrimp or bait fish on a split shot rig works very well also. When fishing live bait, be sure to wait a few seconds after you think the flounder has eaten the bait to make sure it has a good hold on it before setting the hook or you are liable to lose a few.
December is one of my favorite months to target inshore and nearshore gag groupers. There are many good structures throughout the bay shared by gags and bull reds, so there is always the extra chance that when fishing for one you’ll hang the other. I like to either bounce big soft plastics off the bottom while drifting over structures or troll lipped plugs around them. Grouper season closes at the end of the month so get them while you can.
As always, if you have questions about what’s biting, how to catch them or want to book a trip, give me a call or shoot me an email. Tight lines!