appears that the forecasters may be correct and that Florida will
experience an El' Nino winter. We had a few significant cold fronts
around Thanksgiving and in the first week of December.
It took a little
bit of time for the fish to become acclimated to the water
temperatures that fell into the upper 50s and lower 60's. The
fish massed in their usual winter oases and though we had to
physically work for them using artificial lures, the fishing was
great! Jacks, ladyfish, trout, pompano, permit, bluefish, redfish,
flounder, tarpon, mackerel all were making up the daily bag that
on a typical day easily exceeded 100 fish per trip.
Yes, every trip!
We enjoyed an
extended warming trend that kept extending! Next thing I knew, the
water was holding in the upper 60s and low 70s. The fish began to
spread out and scatter. I had been turning my back on live-scaled
sardines that had greeted me every morning since the first week of
December and was now obliging to their presence. The sardines were
staple in achieving 50 fish days, just half of what we were
catching under cooler conditions and artificial lures.
Adam Bresovits and "Jungle
Jim" (below) with a couple of after dark winter snook.
Snook retreat well inside our area rivers in winter and are often
great targets just as the sun drops and the fish relate to deeper
water for insulation.
Even the snook came
out of the backcountry and faced their bodies perpendicular to
oyster bars exposed to the southern tilt of the sun. Snook? On the
flats in December? Not good.
We cooled back off
last week. Things appeared to return to somewhat normal winter
scenarios, but not completely. We continued with the phenomenal
trout bite. On the days with the afforded luxury of flooded rocks and
oysters, redfishing remained unusually strong.
warming trends, the gator trout are found on the very edges of the
flats at low tide and around oyster bars and creek mouths on high
tide. After a passing front, these areas will be vacant, however,
the "schoolie" speck and silver trout fishing is strong
in the areas adjacent to the barrier islands when the shallows are
just too cold. These same areas are producing redfish, bluefish,
mackerel, ladyfish and an occasional flounder. Some jumbo jacks
are where you find them. They are out roaming about expecting to
rampage the flats on the warm spells, but not far from their
winter retreats of the rivers and or power plants.
Four of my last 5
attempts at the tarpon have been successful with hook ups.
Juvenile tarpon are year-round residents in our area. The fish are
neo tropical and very sensitive to changes in the water temperatures,
particularly on the cooler side. So far, the deeper pockets of the
rivers have remained warm and the tarpon are enjoying their
security. The snook traditionally frequent these areas, though I
try not to target them during the closed season. At some point,
conservation-minded anglers need to give these fish a rest!
Normally by this
time, I've already made a few treks to the other coast to pass
some time flying kites and drifting for sailfish in the Gulf
Stream. While there has been plenty of fish caught along Sailfish
Alley in 2006, it has been an off winter so far with the warm air.
I hope January will see the blustery north winds that make the
trips worth wild. My friends say there has been a hot swordfish
bite this past week. We scrapped it for last Saturday night due to
high winds. They will retry tonight.
am hoping winter settles in. I can hardly believe I am saying
that, but in my life, I have long learned that the best peak
spring seasons come after at least a more normal winter.
Traditionally, El' Nino in Florida means it will be colder, but
We are just a few
months away from the peak of the giant tarpon season. Now is the
time to make your plans for 2007!
Happy New Year and
All the Best in 2007!
Mike Erickson took this silver gem on a cool
December morning on a Cotee Liv' Eye chartreuse jig. The juvenile
tarpons remain somewhat active in area rivers with the mild
temperatures we have been experiencing as of late.