Have fun this holiday season catching flounder, trout, redfish and black drum inshore. Try your hand at some bottom fishing for grouper, amberjack, vermillion snapper or scamp. Who needs ham or turkey when you can have fresh grilled fish for Christmas dinner! Fresh caught fillets make a great present!!
Most kids will be on winter break and December is a good time to get them out on the water. Yes there are days that are cold, but there are plenty of days with highs in the 70's with a bright clear sunny sky.
Trout will be found in deeper water this time of year. Try fishing deep water boat docks, bridges deep holes in the bayous and channels. Your best baits for trout will be live shrimp, pinfish, croakers and pigfish. Fish these on a Carolina rig or under a popping cork.
Deep running or sinking plugs, DOA shrimp and Savage shrimp are some of the best lures. Fish this very slow this time of year, as the water is cold trout are less aggressive and fishing the lure too fast will limit the number of bites.
A good way to locate trout is to slow troll with a shrimp tail soft plastic jig in the deep channels of the bayou to locate the trout and then switch to live bait to get the max number of bites.
Most or the redfish will be caught fishing live shrimp, pinfish, croakers and pigfish. Reds will be hanging on docks, bridges and jetties. You will get most of you bites fishing your live bait on a Carolina rig on the bottom. Redfish have to be between 18 and 27 inches to keep.
There are a lot of bull reds around during the winter months and you will find them in the passes, deep channels and around deep water bridges. These bull reds are fun to catch and release. If you chose this type of fishing make sure to net the fish and do your best to unhook them while still in the water only using the net to control the fish. Troll for them using deep running lures. If your lures have large lips and troll 15 of more foot you can run them by them selves. If you have lures wilt small lips you may need to add trolling lead 4 to 6 ounces to get the lure deep enough. Lastly seeing how we are going to release the bull reds as they will be over the slot size it would be great it you added single hooks to your lures rather than the treble hooks that normally come on them. Single hooks make it easier to release the fish unharmed.
Flounder will be in the bay and gulf this month, November and December feature some of the best flounder action of the year. Flounder can be caught hook and line or gigged in good numbers.
Fish a Carolina rig on the bottom near docks and bridges that have sand bottom with access to deep water and oyster beds for best results. Your best bait will be live bull minnows, but flounder belly strips, DOA lures, Savage Shrimp and Gulp will work.
You will find the best flounder fishing just outside the passes and near shore reefs and wrecks. For these flounder in the gulf bulls minnows fished on a Carolina rig will produce the most fish. Fish on the lee side (down wind) of the reef or wreck. Unlike snapper or grouper fishing you don't want to directly over the wreck but more the sand bottom on the lee side of the wreck. Flounder much prefer to lay on the sand bottom than rock waiting to ambush there prey.
If you have not tried fresh mullet you are missing out, it is no wonder they make such good bait as I can definitely see why other fish would want to eat them. Also this time of year they are filled with roe and fried mullet roe is yummy.
Mullet for the most part are caught but throwing a cast net off the dock. Mullet are vegetarian and are difficult to catch on a rod and reel but it can be done.
If you want to try your hand at catching on rod and reel, you need 3 or 4 treble hooks on one line and 1oz lead at the bottom. Tip one prong of each treble with a small piece of a chartreuse grub. Chum the water where you are fishing with dry Ole Roy Dog food. Drop you rig over and wait to feel the mullet sucking on your grub and then snag them with one of the trebles.
Pier Bridge Jetty and Surf
Pelagics are moving out so no the focus will be redfish, sheepshead, flounder, black drum a few pompano and whiting. Winter bonita will start to show at the pier and surf.
Catch keeper reds on a Carolina rig and live shrimp fished on the bottom around the jetties or pier. Slot reds in the surf on a 2 hook bottom rig and shrimp.
Bull reds on the pier, jetty or surf are caught on cut mullet or pinfish fished off the bottom
Use live bull minnows on a Carolina rig with a 1\2oz to 2oz egg sinker. Fish around the docks in the bay or harbor, off the pier and around the jetties. You can also fish Berkley gulps, DOA shrimp and Savage shrimp lures.
Sheepshead will be plentiful off the pier, bridges and jetties. Fish a fiddler crab, live shrimp or oyster on aCarolina rig right next to the pilings or jetty. Sheepshead have a very small mouth so make sure you have a very small hook or you will get a lot of bites and not catch many fish.
Pompano and Whiting
Pompano and whiting will not be as plentiful in the sure this time of year but a few can be caught on sand fleas, shrimp or fiddler crabs. Most of the pompano and whiting will only be in the surf.
Weather plays a big part and you need to put your efforts fourth on the correct days. Look for day right before a weather front moves in where the temps are warmer and the wind is from the south and the seas are kicked up a bit. On the cold north wind days and the surf is flat the action can be very slow.
Off the piers and occasionally off the jetty or surf there will be large schools of bonita crashing pods of rain minnows. Look for the birds and you will normally find the bonita. They bite best on the coldest of mornings with a north wind.
Toss white jigs or white jerk baits for the best action, sometimes spoons or bubble rigs will work well.
Grouper tend to like natural bottom better than wrecks, but they will gather on wrecks. You can also catch grouper on the beach reefs, although we tend to catch the majority of keeper grouper at depths of 150ft to 400ft. You need live cigar minnows, herring, threadfin herring or northern mackerel. Grouper can also be caught jigging with heavy bucktail jigs and butterfly style jigs.
Scamp Grouper are generally found in the 75 to 400 foot range, They prefer natural bottom but will gather on some wrecks. Fishing a Carolina rig with 1oz of lead for every 10 ft of water. Best to use live cigar minnows, pinfish or frozen northern mackerel.
Trigger fish are one of the more tasty fish and fairly easy to catch. Use a 2 or 3 hook bottom rig with circle hooks no bigger than a nickel in size. The best bait is squid, northern mackerel or bonita cut into 1in chunks, fresher is better. They can be caught on wrecks or reefs in 50 to 175 foot depths. Another bait not many people use but very effective is Fishbites or Gulp!
Vermillion snapper AKA Mingo snapper or Beeliners are another one of the better eating snappers. In my opinion they are much better than red snapper and can be caught all year. They normally range 1-3lbs but we catch them up to 5-7lbs. If these little guys grew to 20-30lbs no one would care about red snapper. Use a 2 or 3 hook bottom rig with circle hooks no bigger than a nickel in size. The best bait is squid, northern mackerel or bonita cut into 1in chunks, fresher is better. They can be caught on wrecks or reefs in 50 to 175 foot depths. Another bait not many people use but very effective is Fishbites or Gulp!
Red grouper unlike most bottom fish seem to bite better on what we call trash bait. Trash can be anything from a frozen northern mackerel to a butterflied vermillion snapper. Live baits typically don't work as well for red grouper unlike other groupers as they tend to be very lazy. Also we catch them in much shallower water. normally 50 to 150 foot depths.
Amberjack are generally found fishing wrecks in 50 to 400 ft range, Unlike grouper they tend to like large wrecks rather than natural bottom. Live cigar minnows, hardtails, pinfish and vermillion snapper are preferred baits. Use a Carolina rig with extra long leaders, up to 20ft when fish are picky. Amberjack also love butterfly jigs and large swimbaits.
While yellowfin tuna bite all year at the rigs, the prime time for fishing them is from May to November, this is when they venture closer to home. Most are caught at the Nipple, Spur, Steps, Squiggles and Rigs.
Tuna can be caught in the day trolling ballyhoo, cedar plugs and bullet head lures. Look for birds working bait or pods of porpoise as many times you will find the tuna mixed in with the porpoise. At night catch the tuna jigging or chunking. Find a good spot and set the sea anchor and start chumming with cut pieces of northern or Boston mackerel.
Tuna can range form the small football size to well over 200lbs here along the panhandle area!
Imagine seas running a soft 1 to 2, wind light and variable, stars fill the night sky, you have a cold beer in hand and burgers on the grill. Everyone sitting around tell war stories of the one that got away. Lines are set, extra baits are rigged, the Hydroglow's light spills under the boat turning the crystal blue water a erie green. You can see the 4 buoys marking the lines in the distance. In the quiet still of the night the drag starts screaming, Sword on the Line!!
Swordfish are mostly caught around the Spur fishing the north wall. Most are caught using large offshore squid, whole bonita and northern mackerel. While we do catch daytime swordfish most are caught at night. Fish 3 lines at depths of 50ft, 100ft, and 200ft deep.
Hunting season will be in full swing. We have deer, hogs, ducks and doves.