December 2019

By Neil Taylor and kayak fishing staff contributors

Around the state:

Nervousness overall with winter coming soon:  What will happen to snook if there is another massive freeze event?   So much going on.  Red Tide.    Poaching.    Snook are still not out of the woods yet.  

It is a great time for kayak fishing “if” the weather cooperates.    I always say that December is a lottery.   If it is a great weather pattern, it is a fantastic month for fishing.    We will see.    Usually it is a lot of time on the water with people visiting for the holidays, an opportunity to escape the ice and cold of up north.

Lots of interesting opportunities throughout the state.    Bluefish should be an option almost everywhere.      Flounder?    Maybe.     Sheepshead, definitely.    Trout, absolutely.    Trout remain closed in the central region until at least May.     Too many people ignoring the rule the benefit of the rule just isn’t going to be as good as it could be.    You see it:   Call it in.    

Could be a great month.  I usually predict that it is.   January, usually tougher but December is normally pretty good.    Throughout Florida:   Opportunities exist.     Where?    Read on.  

The Tampa Bay region– 
Interesting setup for December.   The action through Fall being so good, the hopes are that it will be a mild winter and that the action that existed in November will just roll right into December.  

Speckled trout action is outstanding in the last month of the year.   But really, so is almost everything else.   The fish don’t leave:  The move around, and if the adjustments are made, anglers should enjoy catches just as good as they had in October and November.   Redfish will go where the food is.   Without other things to eat, they move to the canals, creeks and rivers where there are species like killifish, crabs and maybe shrimp to forage.   As of Thanksgiving:  It got started.   Big trout where they are supposed to be.  

The easy opportunities that December brings are for species like silver trout and whiting.   It hasn’t started out great.    Already having some fronts, they should be here but they aren’t.    Not exotic, they are easy to find and they are generally always ready to eat.  

Sheepshead become an option.   Now through February is peak time.   This is a “bait” situation.   The fly fishing guys can trick them with a really good shrimp or crab pattern.     Sand fleas, fiddler crabs and live shrimp torn in half are “baits.”  

Bluefish should be a big opportunity.    Hordes of small bluefish were around two months ago.   Those fish should be larger and they should be all over.     My bluefish spots are the same every year.   It’s trough fishing at low tides and on the open flats at high tide.      They will eat basically anything they see.   Upsize your leader to 30-pound.   We caught bluefish that were nine pounds to end November.  

In the Southwest “Suncoast” area of Florida, Steve Gibson with Southern Drawl Kayak Fishing: 
December outlook: Snook will be the name of the game as we take to locals
rivers. In addition, we anticipate redfish, tarpon and largemouth bass. Around
Sarasota bay, spotted seatrout, bluefish, Spanish mackerel and jack crevalle
should be plentiful over the deeper grass flats. Redfish action is expected to
be fair in the shallows.    The migration:   Pompano leave Tampa Bay and they come here.     Great pompano opportunities all winter long.  

The East coast of Florida, the opportunities are decent.    Things cooled down.    You have to know where to go but if you hit it right you can have an excellent outing.     Power boat guys can cover more ground faster but the kayak folks are quieter.   Big redfish.   Trout.   Flounder and sheepshead in specific locations.   Live bait sometimes just works better but the kayak people like their lures.     Use your favorite lures and enjoy some action.   

In the Big Bend of Florida’s Panhandle, Robert Baker at TnT Hideaway on the Wakulla River: .   If you are going to be in Panama City, stop in and see Brad and his staff at Sunjammers:   The chill of December will create challenges, but the fish will be there: Will you dress warm enough and get out after them?  The region will have opportunities for trout, redfish and also other options like drum and flounder.     Don’t pass on opportunities to go!

In Northeast Florida: Action is holding up for redfish, trout but falling off for flounder.  The challenge for the next few months will be weather, but we have places to get out of the wind and still have great kayak fishing outings.   To the south, flounder will be possible but in our area count on sheepshead and redfish to be the best targets.

In the greater South Florida area:

Happy holidays!   And happy fishin’!     The Everglades will provide action for a lot of species- Trout, redfish and snook; plus tarpon, goliath grouper and sharks.    .    Pelagics will continue to be available.    Bottom fishing for bigger reef species is also an option but must be done smartly with safety as priority “1”.

The tip of the month:
Make a resolution.    “Lose some weight.”    Not on the scale!   On your jighead.   Using a 1/16-ounce jighead and a much lighter leader is a great option for your dead-of-winter fishing.    Going with lighter weight, the finessing of lures to sluggish fish will lead to more strikes without jamming in the weeds as badly.    Overall pace of your retrieve: Slower is going to be better.  With lighter jigheads, the slower presentation is necessary but it is also going to add flutter movement to your lures, something that should lead to more strikes.

Need help learning how to kayak fish?   Hire one of our guides on staff for your region and take advantage of their knowledge and sharpen your own skills!   Steve covers the Sarasota/Bradenton area, Neil works the Tampa Bay area!   

Get out and into the action but as always: Be careful out there!

Neil Taylor, site administrator

Neil Taylor

Full time kayak fishing guide, Neil was an advocate for conservation since before the time he started guiding.Outdoor writer, speaker and radio show host, Neil connected closely with Captain Mel Berman and did many positives with Mel to promote ethical angling. After Mel passed away, Neil managed and eventually became that web site’s owner.
Neil Taylor

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