The unusually warm December weather has been a blessing for anglers seeking their favorite species, but the cold front and storms passing through Friday may put a brief kink in your fishing plans.
The Spanish mackerel bite remains strong and as long as the bait schools hang around it will continue. This is the time of year to target not only Spanish macs, but also kingfish. Slow trolling live baits, such as a choice blue runner near flocks of birds, bait pods, or near shore and deeper reefs, may result in a screaming drag as one of these big toothy sprinters inhales your live bait.
Speaking of drags, set yours fairly loose for a good-sized king. A tight drag usually means a pulled hook with these speedsters
Capt. George Tunison
Anchoring at a reef and chumming not only will bring lots of Spanish macs to the boat, but draw the bigger kings as well. Cast for the Spanish with a variety of lures and flies for lots of action. Be sure to put out a couple of large live baits for a monster kingfish. Don't forget the bottom fish while casting the macs.
Grouper are close to shore this time of year so anchoring at a reef and dropping down shrimp, cut baits, or even frozen baits, will catch grouper and snapper and whatever else might be down there and can keep the whole crew busy catching fish from the bottom to the surface.
Some of the best king fishing in December takes place off Naples Bay. Big fish gather there every year in 40 to 60 feet offshore. Look for birds and bait pods and cast or troll live baits around the action. Again, for a jumbo king slow troll a big live blue runner.
Capt. Dick May of Easy Rider Charters reports that Spanish mackerel, bluefish and ladyfish continue to school in the passes, but this weekend's cold front may hurt the action. Plenty of catch-and-release trout are available. Trout season opens January 1 and should be a good one. Cold fronts should kick the sheepshead fishing into high gear.
Capt. Rob Modys of SoulMate Charters tells me the Spanish mac bite along Fort Myers Beach has been amazing. Large schools are busting bait from the shoreline to three miles out. Artificial and live baits are both working, but using a bit of wire leader will prevent bite-offs. Also bonita, bluefish, and blacktip sharks are in the mix.
Snook fishing is excellent on the rising tides. They have made their move to the backcountry islands and oyster bars. Live whitebait is the ticket, but a hand-picked shrimp is just as good. Reds are showing in better numbers and trout are everywhere.
Capt. Phil Evans of AFishinMission Charters says the pompano bite is on with three to six pomps per trip. Head to the area just off the lighthouse for pompano, blues, Spanish, trout and ladyfish and an occasional cobia. Look for the bids on the beaches and find the mackerel gorging on glass minnows. Shut down the big motor and drift to them.
The redfish are here one day and gone the next and the weekend fronts will change all patterns after dialing them in.
Gag grouper have come in close. Within five miles of the beach anglers have been getting their limits. King fish are in the same area as the near-shore grouper. If you are bottom fishing for gags, put out a free lined bait for kings. There are lots of blue runners around that they love to eat. Use a 12-inch wire leader and put a hook in the lips and a stinger treble in the tail area. Keep your drag loose at three to four pounds. Let them run and don't pull too hard.
Remember to take a kid and get out there!
Capt. George Tunison is a Cape Coral resident fishing guide. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or Flying Fins Sportfishing