Mild temperatures, calm seas — great time for fishing
December has blessed us with mild temperatures and calm seas, but you still may want to try fishing some wintertime patterns.
Dock fishing with live shrimp and fishing local canals can be prosperous. I’m noticing good numbers of black drum, sheepshead, redfish and snook are moving into these areas. These fish are just arriving, so now is a good time to target them.
Along the beaches, rumors of pompano are floating around, although the good numbers of fish have not arrived. Spanish mackerel, ladyfish and jacks will provide excellent action on light tackle outfits or fly rods. For any of these fish, a lure with a little flash will attract a bite.
Spotted seatrout are responding to soft plastics combined with a jighead. Drifting is an effective way to locate fish. Once you find a concentration of fish, drop your anchor and work the area thoroughly. Live shrimp also will produce a bite. While targeting trout, expect to encounter jacks, ladyfish, mackerel and bluefish.
Jonny Keyes at Island Discount Tackle says live shrimp are producing a good bite in canals, especially around docks or other structure. Black drum, sheepshead, flounder and redfish are being reported. For rigging, Keyes suggests keeping it simple. A No. 2 hook with a split shot placed 12 inches above the hook will suffice. For leader, 20- or 30-pound fluorocarbon is a good bet.
Spotted seatrout are accommodating flats fishers using soft plastics combined with a jig head. Keyes likes to drift over grass flats and pitch jigs into the sandy potholes to find the trout bite. Keyes’ new favorite trout lure is the “Savage shrimp.” If you’re not familiar with this lure, stop by the tackle shop — they’ve got them.
Migratory fish such as macks, jacks and ladyfish are being caught throughout the area. Piers, beaches or deep flats are a great place to hunt for these high-activity fish. As for bait, any lure that has some flash to it will work.
Capt. Warren Girle is fishing off shore with good results. Fresh-cut shiners for bait are resulting in mangrove snapper. To locate these fish, Girle is anchoring over artificial reefs and hard bottom. While targeting bottom fish, Girle is free-lining live shiners behind the boat for Spanish mackerel. Most catches are in the 15- to 20-inch range, although macks up to 24 inches are not uncommon.
Moving into Sarasota Bay, Girle is targeting redfish. To find these fish, Girle is fishing shallow grass flats which contain oyster bars and scattered pot holes. Berkley Gulp shrimp are producing a bite. Slot-size reds are the norm this week.
Finally, Girle is drifting deep grass flats with pompano jigs tipped with a small piece of shrimp. Pompano, as well as jacks, ladyfish and mackerel are responding to the jigs. You can also expect to encounter spotted seatrout and bluefish.
Dave Sork at the Anna Maria City Pier says black drum are making an appearance. Pier fishers using live shrimp are catching drum 10-20 inches. To target these fish, you want to add some weight to your line to place your bait on the bottom. Flounder, sheepshead and mangrove snapper will also respond to live shrimp fished on the bottom, so be ready to catch a variety.
Spanish mackerel, jacks and ladyfish are still being caught on artificials at the pier. Silver spoons or white jigs are producing a bite. Live shrimp will also work for all three species, although they typically respond better to faster moving baits.
Capt. Rick Gross of Fishy Business charters is changing tactics. Due to the great price being paid for mullet this year, Gross is out cashing in with his mullet net.
Although Gross is mullet fishing, this does not deter him from recreational fishing. In fact, it helps. When mullet fishing, you end up covering a lot of water looking for the fish. Mullet generally congregate in the same areas we fish for redfish, trout and snook. So, with that being said, Gross is not only catching mullet, he’s finding all of the sport fish, which he can go fish for at a later date. Yes, when the phone rings for a fishing charter, Gross already knows where to take his clients.
On a final and sad note, we lost a great captain and fisherman. Capt. Anthony Leverett of Kingdom charters died Dec. 2. His final fishing report: “The fishing we all have and share, here off the beautiful Holmes Beach has been and continues to be nothing short of amazing. Grouper fishing is currently at a record high. There continues to be lots of nice red grouper fairly close to shore, making for short travel times. Our four-hour trips continue to produce double digit catches of red Grouper and gag groupers.
“We also have begun to see a few pelagic species of fish ranging from cobia to Kingfish. To top it all off we also are catching numerous species of shark, including nurse, black tip, and Atlantic Sharp Nose.”
The services for Capt. Anthony Leverett, who died Dec. 2, are past, but you can help his family and show your appreciation for Leverett’s love of fishing.
Call The Islander at 941-778-7978 or CrossPointe Fellowship at 941-778-0719 regarding donations. A fund for donations was being organized at press time.
Send fishing reports to firstname.lastname@example.org.