Fishing Report December 20, 2015

As Red Tide diminishes – fishing improves

With concentrations of red tide diminishing in our waters, fishing is improving — especially along the Gulf beaches and out to the nearshore reefs.

White bait, although starting to thin out, is still available to be caught in a number of areas both on the flats and out on the beach. Live shrimp are working well when white bait is not available.

Targeting mangrove snapper around the nearshore reefs is quite productive. On my recent charters, we are catching limits of these tasty, hard fighting fish. For the snapper, I’m using live shiners combined with a half-ounce knocker rig. A 2/0 circle hook, some 20-pound fluorocarbon and a 1/2-ounce egg sinker completes the rig. Live shrimp also will work, although the abundance of spottail pinfish and Key West grunts makes it near impossible for the snapper to get to the bait before its nibbled away. Multiple snapper in the 16 to18-inch range are being caught with the remainder being in the 12 to 14-inch range.

Using shrimp as bait along the beaches is proving quite productive. I’m finding rallies of pompano during morning incoming tides that are eating every shrimp we cast in the water. Most of the time this bite is lasting for about an hour. A variety of other species are included in this bite, which makes it even more exciting. Bluefish, jack crevalle, bonnethead sharks and juvenile permit are rounding out the bite. Catching the permit is extremely pleasurable. Once they are hooked, the fight is kind of like a pompano on steroids. These permit are in the 5 to 7-pound range, which on light tackle is a real challenge.

Finally, beach fishing around structure such as cement piers and sea walls is producing black drum, sheepshead and flounder. All three are readily taking live shrimp.