Here in Florida we Floridians have been spoiled with the gift of great weather and incredible fishing over the holiday season. With weeks of mild 70 degree weather accompanied by light winds as you can imagine the fishing opportunities are endless along the Nature Coast of Florida at the moment. Sight fishing for tailing Redfish, Casting lures for Gator Trout, and throwing flies at tasty Sheepshead feeding on oysters have all been sure bets during the last few weeks. The only downfall to this great weather and fishing is we’ll never know just how long this pattern will last.
The one constant for the reminder of the year is that most inshore game fish species will continue foraging like crazy to stock up fat for the upcoming winter weather season (when ever it arrives). Redfish especially tend to feed heavily as the impending winter season approaches. At the moment most of our best Redfishing is occurring in areas that hold an abundance of prey for this time of year. Targeting structures in shallow water such as oyster bars, deep drop offs, and rock flats all host a variety of Redfish prey and make great target zones for targeting Redfish this month. There are few areas in both Crystal River and Homosassa that contain all three which make great staging grounds for these fish no matter the weather or tidal pattern. Sight fishing live shrimp, Berkley Gulp! shrimp, DOA Jerkbaits, and a variety of flies have all been extremely productive.
While fishing these same shallow water structures this time of year most anglers will come into contact with a variety of other species including Giant Speckled Trout, Sheepshead and Flounder. Having a variety of rods ready for all instances makes great sense this time of year. I for one always try to have a live shrimp ready to use as a pitch bait incase a sight fishing opportunity presents itself. Considering most of the productive fishing water is on average three feet or less, opportunities to sight fish most of your catch is as reliable as our sunny days. The key to having a pitch bait ready is use the least amount of weight possible to get your bait to the intended target. Most of our live shrimp coming from the Gulf are extremely large at the moment and my anglers are getting by using just the shrimp on 1/0 live bait hook. This no weight rig is perfect to make delicate presentations to already weary shallow water feeders.
With extreme shallow water fishing at it’s best this month and delicate presentations at a premium when sight fishing, now is a great time to target some of our inshore species on fly. Opportunities to catch a variety of species on fly are occurring every day and with most fish foraging on the same prey (shrimp and a variety of crabs) similar patterns can be used to catch most species. Borski sliders, Schminnows, half & halfs have all been successful flies for targeting Redfish and Speckled Trout. However, the true gem of fly fishing at the moment belongs to the Sheepshead. Sheepsheads are a very challenging fish to catch on bait because of their typical nibble strike. When you add fluff and feathers to the mix a fly angler really has to coerce a weary Sheephead into taking a fly. Nothing is more gratifying than convincing a Sheepshead to leaves its oyster bar buffet to track down a fly. Just ask Michael O’neil that made the trip down from New York to experience this feat.
So with Fantastic fishing opportunities abound and Great weather in the forecast for the rest of 2012, why not consider a Florida Fishing Adventure during your holiday plans.
FLORIDA FISHING ADVENTURES GIFT CERTIFICATES MAKE GREAT CHRISTMAS PRESENTS!!
Capt. Kyle Messier