Tampa Bay Fishing Charters Report for December 2017
Snapper will push in and out, but the annual aggregation of sheepshead will begin with the colder water push. For sheepshead, you can’t beat December.
As the winter sets in for our Northern friends, the frigid cold is slower to impact the water temperatures in our favorite hides in the Tampa Bay area. The big issue will be the winds that accompany the fronts that will eventually change the bite for us.
If the fronts come through early in the month, we may see a good push of gag grouper come into the bay. You can drift fish or anchor over areas in the Bahia reef and Port Manatee reef, along with significant contour changes on the edges of the shipping channel. Large threadfin with a trimmed tail work well, as do pinfish for these dinner delicacies. Remember that the season for gags will close with the new year. On Apollo Beach fishing charters we use fiddler crabs on a #1 or 1/0 hook and a small split shot weight. These fish are notorious bait stealers, so a tender feel is needed to outsmart these convicts. If fiddlers are hard to find, shrimp and mussels will work well also. Focus on hard structure with rocks or docks with established barnacle and oyster build up.
Trout and redfish will be on the flats and push back into the rivers and bays at the water gets into frigid temps. Slow presentation of shrimp with a split shot about 12” to 18” will keep the bait in position. Trout will also hit artificial baits on the warmer days. On cold days focus on mud flats and backwater areas. These areas will warm up quicker. The cold snaps will shock the fish, but they will recover with the warming sun and be hungry to eat. Brighter colors like the electric chicken will provide tight lines.
Snook are closed this month but will still provide a great bite when you can find that warmer water temperatures. You may notice the color differences in the darker back country snook that reside there all year long and the lighter snook that come into the back to escape the colder water. Be sure to visit Apollo Beach fishing charters homepage for the latest.
Capt. Mike Murphy