Specifically, you’ll want to visit the southeast coast for the best experience during those early winter months. Whether you’re a novice or more experienced angler, you’ll have a good time along the famous Sailfish Alley, which stretches from the Keys through Miami to Fort Pierce up north.
Their predominance in December and January stems from their winter migration as they head south in large numbers. The average sailfish weighs around 40 pounds and is about 7 feet long, and they are known for their acrobatics to create an exciting and challenging catch.
You can also fish in saltwater if you visit the Savannah River, with its low tides and pleasant environment during the winter months. All of these waters make for great bass fishing, whether you’re looking for stripper or other species found in Georgia’s major lakes and reservoirs.
Catfish primarily feed on thread fin shad, which are found in large schools throughout the winter. In the 4’-to-5’ winter waters of Pickwick, fish will be more accessible, but it’s important to keep in mind that the swift currents create a more dangerous environment.
Should you decide to fish here in December, you’ll find all types of bass, as they feed on shad and crayfish. Steel head are also particularly fussy this time of year, making it crucial to work with a good charter captain along with a skipper who’s experienced with these fish.
Roughly 480 miles south of Dallas, the Falcon Reservoir on the Rio Grande in Zapata is where the bass are during the winter. Since the heavy rainfall of 2003 that helped initiate the restoration of Falcon’s water levels, this reservoir has been one of the best places to fish for bass and other species of substantial size.
Each of these locations can provide for an unforgettable December winter fishing experience, regardless of where you’re headed north, south, east, or west. With many lakes full of fauna in addition to coastal waters, South Carolina is ideal for plenty of freshwater winter fishing.
Fishing in Florida in the winter can be challenging due to the constantly changing conditions. The key to angling success in Florida in the winter is understanding how these constantly changing conditions affect fish behavior.
Both resident and migratory game fish species undergo some type of migration throughout the year. As the front moves through it will bring strong northwest winds and perhaps a bit of rain.
This is a good day to stay home as conditions will not only be tough to fish, they can be downright dangerous. The next day will bring north and northeast winds, bright sunshine and cool temperatures.
That afternoon will warm up and the next couple of days will be very pleasant with mild temperatures and winds out of the east. Finally, the winds turn southwest then northwest as the cycle completes and then begins to repeat itself.
This means they must understand how these changes will affect the locations and feeding habits of the game fish that they are targeting. This is much more difficult in winter in Florida than it is at other times of year, as conditions are much more consistent in spring, summer, and fall.
Also, no matter which way the wind is blowing, docks in protected areas can usually be found that will offer anglers the chance to catch a few fish. Finally, water clarity is much less of an issue with sleepyhead, drum, and other bottom fish.
Bridges are usually found in deeper water and have abundant structure as well as good current flow. Seawalls, jetties, oyster bars, and artificial reefs are other productive areas to do some bottom fishing.
Sleepyhead, black drum, redfish, flounder, grouper, snapper, and shook will all be found in these spots. On shallow spots, anglers can simply pinch on a couple of splits shot 18 inches above the hook.
No matter what the rig, anglers should use the minimum amount of weight required to get the bait down to the bottom. In most applications, anglers bottom fishing in Florida in the winter will do well with a #1 live bait hook.
These extreme low tides can offer some outstanding fishing to patient anglers. Due to the extreme low tides and lack of water, fish will gang up in deeper depressions, holes, and channels.
Anglers who locate a pothole or channel in an otherwise very shallow flat can experience non-stop action. As the tide rises and the water warms, fish will move up onto the flat to forage in the afternoon.
While the game fish may be more in a mood to feed, they are also more difficult to locate as they scatter about over a large flat. Submerged grass beds in deeper water can be great spots to fish in Florida in the wintertime.
Game fish will seek out slightly deeper areas when water temperatures are low. The best approach when fishing the deep grass flats is to drift with the wind and the tide while casting artificial lures or live shrimp.
Often times in winter, the key to success when fishing the deep flats is finding “clean” water. Flats near the passes are especially prone to being covered up as the incoming tide floods the area with dirty water.
Fish will not be as active in the colder water and fast, aggressive retrieves that work in the summer are usually less effective in the winter. Soft plastic baits rigged on a jig head or swim bait hook are especially productive.
Anglers casting spoons and plugs will also catch fish, especially if they go with smaller baits and more subtle presentations. Live shrimp are also extremely effective when fished over submerged grass under a noisy float.
Cold weather will push shook and other species up into area creeks, rivers, and residential canals. Game fish move up into these waters as they are generally significantly warmer than the exposed, open flats.
Along with shook, anglers can find jack crevasse, redfish, snapper, juvenile tarpon, and other saltwater species. Anglers fishing brackish rivers will also have the opportunity to land freshwater species such as large mouth bass, catfish, and gar.
Creeks and rivers are great places to fish in Florida in the wintertime for several reasons. First off, as previously mentioned, shook, jacks, and other saltwater game fish will migrate up into these bodies of water in the winter.
In brackish rivers in creeks, bluegill and tilapia are abundant and are great forage for larger game fish. While the scenery might not be as nice as when fishing creeks and rivers, these canals are generally more accessible to anglers in larger boats.
Most canals are dredged and therefore fairly deep within an abundance of structure including docks and seawalls. In most instances, artificial lures are the best choice when targeting shook and jacks in rivers, creeks, and canals.
More often than not, game fish will be scattered throughout the body of water as opposed to being bunched up in one spot. Artificial lures allow anglers to cover a lot of water in a relatively short amount of time.
Between the structure, current, and water depth, these are ideal holding spots for game fish Tributaries entering the main channel, particularly on an outgoing tide, are excellent spots as well.
Docks, seawalls oyster bars, and limestone shorelines are also worth a few casts. The top two artificial lures for fishing Florida creeks and rivers are shallow diving plugs and soft plastic baits.
Plugs are great “locator” baits as they will cover a lot of water fairly quickly and tend to elicit reflex strikes. These plugs are cast out towards likely shoreline cover and structure and brought back to the boat using a sharp twitch or two followed by a pause.
Plugs are also terrific lures to use when trolling, which is a very effective technique that will locate fish in a short amount of time. However, the same basic baits anglers use for inshore saltwater fishing will produce and rivers as well.
Shad tail and fluke style baits can be used either on a jig head or a swim bait hook. They are also good choices when the water temperature is low and fish may not actively chase a faster moving plug.
For this reason, in order to fish efficiently, most anglers real the bait back in quickly after working at the first several feet. It’s not that the fish have lockjaw, or that they don’t eat, you just need to switch up your strategies from other times in the year.