As December unfolds, anglers can find the water temperature hovering around 60 degrees. Post-cold front conditions have proven to be a key factor in enhancing productivity with the exception on clear full moon nights. Full moons provide ample light for fish to feed and leave them lethargic during daylight hours.

As the fronts pass, they tend to stir up the water and bring about changes in atmospheric pressure, influencing fish behavior. Redfish, particularly in winter, have a strong preference for shrimp and crabs. Choose lightly weighted fly patterns tied on #2 and #4 hooks in natural color schemes to accurately replicate the appearance of these primary food sources.

The congregations of spotted sea trout around hard bottom areas during winter are often a precursor to the spring spawning season. Trout exhibit a notable behavior shift during the winter months, often moving into shallower waters. Their level of difficulty rises as they move in shallower, especially when targeting or sight fishing the larger fish. Extra long and light leaders help the angler distance the fly line from the fly, essentially allowing for a closer presentation to the fish. Use fluorocarbon leaders with a length suitable for the clarity of the water.

A 10-12 foot leader with a tippet strength of 12 to 15 pounds should suffice, providing the necessary strength for potential larger redfish and spooky sensitive shallow water spotted sea trout.

By incorporating these adjustments into your fly fishing strategy, focusing on lightly weighted flies and adapting your techniques for shallow-water conditions, you’ll be well-equipped to capitalize on the winter feeding habits of redfish and spotted sea trout.


West Central Florida Restorative

Fishing in and around Tampa bay has been on the decline for the past couple years following the red tide in 2021. It used to be a common occurrence to see a group of a hundred redfish and now I feel lucky to see ten together. Unfortunately, after 3 millions pounds of fish were removed and a small 6 month closure, everything was reopened as if nothing happened. Now we’re paying the price and nothing in the bay area appears to be improving.

West central Florida is in trouble after a red tide that took a toll that none of us have ever seen. The red tide was so thick in some areas that it would prevent sunlight from reaching the floor therefore killing the sea grass. An algae bloom of this magnitude took such a toll that it impacted fish stocks from Sarasota bay all the way up to Tarpon Springs and all of Tampa Bay. Recovery time is a necessity for the preservation of our resource and with a re-open to harvest all inshore species, it won’t be possible.

The red tide in 2018 created by the blue-green algae dump out of the Caloosahatchee river from Lake Okeechobee was/is a catastrophic event. Following the event, FWC closed the harvest of any inshore species for what seemed like 5 years. This gave the ecosystem a chance to rebound/recover and the fishery now is doing better because of the closure. There is without a doubt, a larger problem at hand, being water quality and the whole state is feeling it. Let’s let nature do her thing.

Please SHARE and SIGN. The next FWC Commission meeting is 2/21 and 2/22/23 location TBD.