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Richard Stanczyk

December fishing in Islamorada Florida 2014

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December has arrived and for the last month it's already been full 'winter mode' for us here in the Florida Keys. The great thing about living and fishing down here is there is great fishing all year round. The winter however is probably the most dramatic change we get as far as variety of things that we fish for. In the everglades with the colder water temperatures the fish often push out of the shallows and flats areas, and move into the deeper creeks, canals, channel run-offs, and island moats. Especially during a cold front with howling north winds and temperature drops, if you catch it right you can catch good fish almost every cast some days. We've already had 3 good cold fronts where the temperatures dropped to around 60 degrees, and now that the fish have adjusted the fishing really lit up afterwards. We've had several good days of catching redfish, snook, black drum, and sheepshead. Some nice size trout have shown up in some of the channel run-offs too, normal for the winter time. The last few times back during the right conditions, catches of up to 40 or more of these fish were the norm. When the water is cold shrimp is all you need for bait which is readily accessible at every local bait shop. When things warm up slightly the fishing is still good, we often are fishing live pilchards for snook and redfish, but the fish spread out a bit more often times. In the gulf the spanish mackerel have shown up in full force. We've been running a little past the everglades national park boundary and chumming big schools of spanish mackerel up. Most days produce double digit catches, and some days it has been so good that when you hook one fish, another one comes and tries to bite the knot! Big blacktip sharks are also feeding out in those areas, and on the falling tide it can be excellent fishing for these brutes. Further out cobia and triple tail are being found off structure such as wrecks and stone crab trap lines, and of course goliath grouper can be caught out there too. Last time out there looking for cobias, we had a pack of 10 or so pop up with fish as big as 40 lbs. A 300+ lb goliath grouper came up and tried to eat one that we hooked, luckily we were able to keep that from happening! On the ocean side patch reef fishing is very good too. We've had strong catches of porgy and hogfish - some of the best eating fish there is down here. My anglers regularly bring these fish to local resturants and have them prepared all different kinds of ways! This is a great half day option as many of these areas are only a 10 minute ride from the dock, and with the predominant north winds it is actually farily calm as the shallow ocean side is protected by the keys themselves with the wind coming from the bay/gulf side. There is also plenty of snapper, grouper, mackerel, jacks, and the occasional permit out there too. Tarpon fishing will be slow throughout the winter, though usually by February we start having better fishing for them. Of course if there is a string of warm days with southeaserly winds, tarpon can pop up any time of year. If your looking to go on the fishing trip of a lifetime, Islamorada should be on your list. You don't have to worry about any snow down here and Bud n' Mary's Marina has plenty of full time, professional guides waiting to put you on the fish!

Capt. Rick Stanczyk





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