Inshore Fishing Report
Unfortunately December didn’t provide us the best weather conditions with a lot of wind, but when there were weather windows, the bite was pretty good inshore. We should begin to see better conditions in January as historically we get a lot of those fronts we have been experiencing in December that bring the wind and rain. Triple Tail, Sheepshead, Black Drum, Croakers, Snook, Trout, Redfish, Pompano, Spanish Mackerel and Bluefish have all been on the catch lists over the past few weeks and we should continue to see them around over the next few months.
Running the crab trap buoys and fishing the channel markers north of the Jensen Causeway is a great place to look for Triple Tail. December provided us with some excellent Triple Tail fishing with many quality fish over ten pounds coming back to the dock. On clear days, you can run down the crab trap buoys to see if you can spot them and sight fish them with a shrimp. You can also look to find them on the channel markers. Along with the Triple Tail, you can expect to find Sheepshead, Croakers and occasionally some Black Drum on the markers. A lot of times when you find the Croakers, they will be schooled up so you can try to take advantage of that opportunity and load up on them and have an excellent fish fry.
Sheepshead fishing is starting to heat up for us and will only get better as we typically see our best Sheepshead fishing in February. You will look to find them around structure such as docks, the causeways, sea walls, submerged mangroves and pretty much anything with solid barnacle growth. You can also look to find them on some of the nearshore reefs like Pecks Lake. Live shrimp, chunks of crabs and fiddler crabs when available will be your best bait choices. Black Drum fishing around the causeways has remained productive as well fishing the same baits, there have been a few Redfish around the causeways as well so don’t be surprised if you catch one as bycatch. Some Black Drum have also been caught underneath the power lines up by the power plant.
Snook season closed on December 15th, but the Snook bite remains productive with the cooler water temperatures. You will find that the fish tend to be a bit more lethargic when the water temperatures drop and will be more inclined to feed on a slower moving presentation. This time of year you will want to look for Snook in areas with deeper water and structure as they will use those areas to stay warm, you can also look for them sunning themselves to stay warm on the flats and along sea walls. Live and artificial shrimp in the mornings and evenings are great choices this time of year if you’re looking to target Snook. The evening bite at the causeway has been pretty good for anglers free lining live shrimp and throwing artificial shrimp such as Thumper Shrimp and Vudu Shrimp. Fishing flair hawk jigs and slow rolling paddle tails are also solid choices for those looking to fish artificials. As the sun gets higher and the water warms up the fish will become more active and more willing to chase after a live bait. Fishing the dock lights at night with smaller artificials is a productive strategy, we also tend to see some Trout mixed in with the Snook in the lights this time of year.
Our inshore Pompano bite is starting to heat up for us. Anglers have been catching them fishing jigs in the inlet, in the crossroads and on the Sailfish flats. Land based anglers have also been picking some off at the Jensen Causeway east side relief bridge. Jigging for Pompano this time of year can bring anglers a lot of action as you will also run into Bonefish, Spanish Mackerel, Bluefish, Jacks and more that will be mixed in with the Pompano. The Spanish Mackerel have also been starting to show up at Pecks Lake for those who are looking to load up on them. Gulfstream Flash Minnows, Gotcha Plugs and spoons will be your ticket to getting them.
Offshore Fishing Report
The surface bite has been pretty slow when the conditions have been fishable over the past few weeks. The fish have been pretty spread out and haven’t come in big numbers. A few Mahi, Sailfish and Blackfin Tunas have been making the catch list as of late. The past few days we’ve had a few opportunities for anglers to get offshore and trolling has been the most productive strategy with the fish being spread out like this. Reports of surface action on Mahi, Tunas and Sails have been coming in from 150′-210′ and on the backside of Pushbutton Hill. When live bait is available, kite fishing is another really effective way to fish. Our surface action is typically pretty good this time of year so we can hope to see some more fish push our way throughout the month.
Bottom fishing has been pretty good for those fishing in the 60’-90’ range. Mutton Snappers, Lane Snappers, Triggerfish, Sea Bass and Kingfish have been making their way back to the fillet table. The Lane Snapper bite has been really good over the past few days. Chicken rigs with pieces of squid or sardines will get the job done on them. The majority of them have been caught in the 60’ range. There have been a good amount of them caught on the shallower reefs as well, even at Pecks Lake underneath the Spanish Mackerel. You can fish a jig head with a shrimp or pieces of shrimp to get the bite when they are around. You can also expect to find Sheepshead and a variety of other species on some of the shallow nearshore reefs this time of year. As mentioned earlier in the inshore report, the Spanish Mackerel have shown up in good numbers at Pecks Lake. The Vermillion Snapper bite has still been hot out at Pushbutton Hill as well.
Surf Fishing Report
The surf fishing bite has started to pick up over the past few days as we’ve had some favorable weather and a nice west wind to knock the waves down. We’re starting to see some better numbers of Pompano off our beaches and some quality sized fish hitting the sand. EZ Flea and Electric Chicken Crab FishBites have been the ticket the past few days. Anglers are also finding success on sand fleas and clam. The majority of the Pompano have been caught in the deeper troughs, about 90yds off the beach. Some nice sized Whiting have been picked off by those Pompano fishing, they’ve been 60-90yds off the beach. We should continue to see the Pompano bite improve throughout the month. There have been Spanish Mackerel and some bigger Bluefish have been in the surf as well for those who want to throw lures. The fish have definitely been around when conditions have permitted which is always a great sign! A few Permit have been caught as well, Powerlime Crab FishBites have gotten the bite on them, you can also try the Blue Crab flavor as that typically produces some Permit bites from the surf.
Lake Okeechobee Fishing Report – Capt. Angie Douthit
The bass and crappie fishing is in full swing with prime spawn time among us and will continue
through the month of April so book you’re next fun day fishing the big O for big bass and specks
soon. The main areas around the lake have been real good ranging from Observation shoal to
the Monkey box and on up the North shore, parts of Kings bar, areas on the east side are Nubb
and Slough, Hendry Creek and areas around J & S towards the back hard wall areas. The
crappie bite for those of you who prefer to jig over minnow fishing are doing well, fishing
basically around the same areas as for the bass anglers. Some colors that are catching specks
range from white, green, pinks and orange. The night time minnow fisherman are catching
them good both in the lake and the Kissimmee River and especially fishing Harney pond canal
which is located in Lakeport. While in Lakeport, stop by Big Water Bait & Tackle store for all
your fishing needs, live-bait, snacks and friendly staff. As a friendly reminder, Okeechobee has
always hosted a few major bass fishing tournaments during the winter months so be on the
lookout for a busier than normal January and February and allow the Anglers that come to
Okeechobee, who help support the community a friendly welcome. Lures that have been
catching bass are: swim jigs/swim baits; worms; flipping/pitching creature-style lures such as
crawdads; spinner baits; shallow crank baits; some top water such as spooks and devil horses.
Colors to consider are: black/blue; white; red shad; june bug; tilapia and Okeechobee craw. A
kind reminder to prep your boat for launch in the boat prepping lane NOT after you back up to
the ramp and block those who have prepped ahead of time and are ready to put in, be mindful
and respectful so we all can enjoy our time on the water. To book you’re next fun day fishing
Okeechobee for bass or crappie call 863-228-7263 or log onto my website
www.southfloridabassfishing.com I can accommodate trips that require more than one boat
and multiple day trips. I also give Veteran and one-person trip discounts. I also offer my
customers a special Hampton Inn room rate, inquiry when booking. A big Thanks to my
Sponsors: Toho Marine, St. Cloud, Florida; Mercury Marine; BnM Poles; Mid-South crappie
tackle; Real Magic; Gene Larew; Gill; Bullet Weights; Lews; G-Loomis; Tru-Turn hooks and Doug
Hannon’s Moon Clock.