December fishing forecast

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It is starting to feel a lot like winter and Christmas is almost here.<br />
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Colder weather finally found us. While Southwest Florida’s seasons are moderate compared to our northern friends, local fishing varies with water temperatures. Snook and trout are both closed now and this puts the inside bulls eye on redfish. We have been blessed with some good pompano action recently and it should even improve. Whiting can bail out your trip if pompano get lost temporarily. Sheepshead will start to pick up and peak in February. We enjoyed some great Spanish and king mackerel fishing last month but this cold weather could mess it up; we’ll hope it warms up fast and some hang around. Grouper action improves and some have even come inside Charlotte Harbor. Some cobia have popped up recently and more are due any time. We even start to see big AJs on structures as shallow and thirty-five feet. Of course the jewfish are abundant and a nuisance on all structures if you feel like tangling with a bruiser. Plus I have a few Holliday thoughts for you.<br />
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Weather has been windy but fishable mostly; however we did have some cold weather drop water temps dramatically. The front’s strength control migrations of fish by pushing schools south now. Our cold temps don’t compare to the blizzards up north, so make the best of things.<br />
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Snook closes the First of December and trout remains closed until New Years day. This puts increased pressure on redfish. We have some quality red fishing but they get fished everyday and are not dumb. Expect to invest some effort for your fish. The backcountry waters are beautiful and full of shore birds to help enhance the fishing experience. Lures are best now to allow you to cover water and lock in on hungry redfish. Small live pinfish allow you to sit on a hole and wait em out if you choose.<br />
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Pompano fishing has been great and many are big; Tim Finally had a one that weighed five and a half pounds last week. We had golden nuggets to three pounds daily. We also had a few short ones below eleven inches to the fork so measure when required. We have caught three bonefish, (yes bonefish), recently; one more last week. While small it is exciting to see these South Florida fish up here, they are beautiful shiny silver and green. I actually caught a Key’s Slam in Charlotte Harbor last month; tarpon, permit and bonefish in the same day. Our Boca Grande/Charlotte Harbor fishing has been great! Whiting help fill any holes in our pompano fishery. Sheepshead are due to pick up any time and good on the table plus fun to catch. These three species help get us thru the cold water fishing periods and closures. <br />
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Spanish and king mackerel were hot last month. Current cold weather may mess this up but winds are already moderate and we could get lucky if waters don’t cool too much, too fast. Baitfish were abundant and could hold a little longer. I have never seen more ballyhoo than we have now. Pigfish are rebounding from those terrible red tides we had a couple of years ago. Area waters are alive and fish are thriving. A few nice flounder have slipped into our catches recently; a sure sign of healthy fisheries.<br />
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Grouper have even showed up inside Charlotte Harbor so I know the near shore fishery has improved. Crabbers report lots of small grouper in their stone crab traps and we catch them everyday, so this fishery is healthy no matter what the NMFS chooses to believe. Try trolling large lipped lures to locate structures and hungry grouper. Live and dead baits can add numbers after you find the concentrations of fish. <br />
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Cobia and AJs both show up now on wrecks and major structures. Bring some heaver gear and be prepared with some free line rigs, because they are fun opportunities if you are ready and these big fish pop up beside your boat. If you are really feeling strong try your hand at the huge jewfish abundant on all structures. Any kind of legal fish up to about ten pounds make perfect bait. Get out the heavy gear and be prepared for the pull of your life; these are strong fish and weigh up to five and six hundred pounds! Don’t hurt yourself!<br />
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Christmas is a special time for family and friends. Most of us are short on dollars so please consider finding some of your valuable time to share on the water with them. Kids and grandchildren especially enjoy any time they can share with us. A boat ride or bank fishing for catfish is special and gives them memories they cherish for their lifetime. Just reflect back to your childhood and enjoy your treasured memories of fishing with your dad and granddads, etc… It’s the one on one sharing not what you do. <br />
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We also have lots of inexpensive gadgets if you find a few bucks to spend. We are required to use circle hooks, to have de-hookers and venting tools grouper ands snapper fishing now. These can help fishing and save us a ticket. The de- hookers are handy on those catfish trips too! It takes some effort to learn how these work but the ease of release for the rest of your fishing life is a blessing to enjoy. I know we want more but we can be thankful for what we do have and make to most of it. Merry Christmas and Let’s GO Fishin’ soon. Captain Van Hubbard. <www.captvan.com><br />
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Captain Van Hubbard

P.O. Box 146
Placida, FL 33946

941-468-4017

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