December is a month that will test an angler’s ability to adapt to current conditions. Water quality will vary throughout the area as passing cold fronts churn up the Gulf of Mexico. The flats north and south of the passes will be more productive under these circumstances. After several days of nice weather, the water near the passes will clear and those areas will once again be good spots to fish. Creeks and canals will attract fish as water temperatures drop.
Often times the tides will be very low in the morning in December. This will move trout, pompano, and other species off of the flats and into the deeper channels. There simply is not enough water up on the flat for them to be comfortable. Bouncing a jig down the sides of channel edges can be very productive. As the tide rises, fish will move up onto the flats to feed. Afternoon high tides can be the best time to fish the deep flats this time of year. A live shrimp under a cork is very effective, as are jigs with plastic grub tails. Natural colors such as olive, rootbeer, and motor oil work well in the slightly darker water.
There are several creeks and countless canals in our area, and all of them are productive winter time spots. Phillippi Creek and the Grand Canal on Siesta Key are some of the most popular fishing holes. Rapala X-Raps work very well on snook and jack crevelle for anglers who prefer to cast artificial baits. They elicit explosive strikes and allow anglers to cover a lot of area fairly quickly. Once fish are located, large live shrimp and slowly worked soft plastic baits will also catch their share. Sheepshead and black drum will be found in the deeper holes, a live shrimp works best for these tasty bottom dwellers.
Several rivers lie a short drive east of Siesta Key and offers visitors a unique angling opportunity; the chance to catch a trophy snook casting plugs while experiencing fantastic scenery. This is truly “Old Florida” and is a quiet and serene trip in a great natural setting. Along with snook, bass, baby tarpon, gar, and other species are encountered. Alligators and exotic bird life is seen on most trips as well.
Both Big Pass and New Pass will be good spots to fish when the water is clean, especially on the morning incoming tide. Jigs bounced off the bottom will catch pompano, bluefish, Spanish mackerel, and ladyfish. Structure in both passes will attract sheepshead, along with grouper, snapper, flounder, and other species. Slack tides are the best times to fish these spots, a swiftly moving tide makes getting the bait to the bottom difficult. The many docks along Bird Key are especially productive for sheepies.
Surf casters all along Siesta Key will score on whiting, silver trout, flounder, and more using live and frozen shrimp. A #1 hook with just a little bit of weight works best. Silver spoons will catch mackerel if they are still around, along with ladyfish.