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December Fishing Report

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! I hope your holidays are as good as the fishing has been lately.

The first real cold front of the year didn't arrive until a couple of weeks into December. This time last year we had already been fishing winter time patterns for well over a month. This year, we've been able to take shots at cruising snook all the way through December 20th.

There have been many gamefish cruising flats from the Upper Bay all the way into Aripeka.

Tampa Bay has been producing redfish in and around feeder creeks. Look for snook and trout to stack up in deeper potholes surrounded by shallow flats. These fish will use the mud and deeper water to stay warm and take advantage of sunny afternoons with an incoming tide to move up and feed. Playing the wind and tides right will keep you in fish and out of the elements all day long.

St. Joseph's Sound has boasted a strong speckled trout and redfish bite around grass flats and edges. Tailing fish are all over on Low water and can be targeted on incoming and outgoing tides. Make sure you know your limits on the outgoing to avoid being stuck for a few hours. The tailing fish have been feeding in certain windows of the tides and then will move into areas where they can cruise grass and sandy pockets looking for crustaceans. A little observation on the different tide cycles can show you how fish use certain areas to feed, and cruise to the next feeding ground. Sitting and watching is a great way to understand how to effectively target these fish day to day with artificial lures and flies.

The sports coast and nature coast saw much of the same for the first part of the month. Fish used the mouths of feeder creeks to float in and out with the tides, ambush prey, and take cover against dolphins and other predators. These creeks, rock bars, and edges of flats have all been holding fish in the area. Working specific edges and creek mouths with artificials can earn a lot of fish. The same can be done sight fishing with a fly or waiting to work a lure to a specific fish.

The cold front before and after Christmas will send the snook packing up the rivers, creeks, potholes and anywhere else they can possibly stay warm. If some fish stay behind and get cold shocked, it's best to let Nature run its course. Cold shocked fish can be seen floating on the surface. Some fish will survive after they are able to warm back up, some will not make it. However there is no way to know what will happen while the fish in in shock. Interacting with the fish in any way will only add stress and likely aid in causing death.

Redfish will begin to congregate in big schools with the cold. They can be seen meandering together in large groups of fish. They will also meander around and occasionally eat. These fish are hard to target as there are a lot of eyeballs and lateral lines in the water to fool. However, it can be done. Sit back and watch where the fish congregate. They will often roam a tight area and can be targeted while moving in that specific area. Trout will also be able to be targeted on flat edges, drop offs, and potholes with slow moving flies, lures, and shrimp.

The winter time is all about patterns and understanding them. No matter what area you fish, work to understand those patterns fish stay in and you'll be rewarded.

Lastly, I'd like to thank all my customers on helping make this a splendid year for me and my family! I hope your experiences with our fishing trips were great and I look forward to an awesome 2023 full of fishing adventures. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you all and I'll see you in 2023!

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