Tis’ the Season and the month of December has already brought visiting anglers some extremely nice gifts this month. The most welcomed gift of all was the exit of the heat and humidity that most Florida residents become accustomed to starting in April. It never seems to fail that once the heat and humidity leave the area the Gag Grouper action explodes into some of the best fishing action of the year.
Nature Coast Grouper anglers have found that the key to Grouper-catching success this time of year is always dependent upon the severity of the approaching south bound cold fronts. No matter how abundant and hungry Grouper might be, near shore trips targeting Grouper in 8-15 feet of water are mighty challenging with a stiff north wind. Although the weather lately has been very favorable that’s only one hurdle Grouper fans have had to clear.
Finding clear productive water since Hurricane Irma’s passing in September has been as challenging as finding the right plug to cast or troll. The 12-15 inches of rain that Irma dumped on the Nature Coast brought flooding conditions to most of the lakes and rivers scattered across the area. In order to relieve the flooding, millions of gallons of tannic water have been allowed to flow out of the Withlacoochee River staining our normally crystal clear Grouper Grounds. Although the water isn’t nearly as clear as it has been in the past, the Gag Grouper still do not seem to mind. Outside of finding clear water south of the rivers flow one successful trick that we have found is to use larger bodied and brightly colored plugs. Rapala X Rap Magnums are the lures of choice these days as they are perfect for reaching the desired 15’ depths. The colors of old such as Fire Tiger and Blue Mackerel have now gave way to Hot Pink and Hot Head (Orange) which are perfectly colored for fishing darker waters.
On those weather and tide days when targeting Grouper is not ideal backcountry anglers are still finding consistent action targeting Redfish, Speckled Trout, and Sheepshead using live shrimp and crabs. As we progress into our winter season abnormally low tides will drive most of these backcountry species into deeper holes where they will have a safer place to retreat from predators and rapidly cooling temperatures. The key when fishing holes especially in the backcountry is to understand that not all holes are productive. My favorite types of holes usually are a minimum of 5 feet deep at low tide and have some type of rocky structure either on the perimeter of the hole or within the hole. These rocky structures provide great hiding spots for shrimp, crabs and a variety sand eels that these fish will be feeding on this time of year.
With the end of the year on the horizon and still plenty of great fishing days to look forward to why not end 2017 with a bang!!!! Or even better, end it with a great day of fishing with Florida Fishing Adventures.
REEL FLORIDA FISHING CHARTERS GIFT CERTIFICATES MAKE GREAT CHRISTMAS GIFTS!