Merry Christmas everyone! I always have to pinch myself this time of year and reflect on the fact that much of the world is a frozen wasteland. Not here in the Florida Keys! I am writing this report while sitting on my porch on a beautiful Islamorada morning with temperatures in the low 70’s. That said, we did have a bit of cool down the last few weeks with nighttime temperatures dipping into the fifties. I absolutely love it. Sitting around a fire pit enjoying with your favorite beverage is one of life’s great pleasures if you ask me. It’s not a bad time to think about fishing either. North winds and cooler temps mean cooler water. I enjoy the seasonal change but sometimes it can make the fishing a bit tough for some species, particularly if you are throwing a fly first thing in the morning. The good thing is that our backcountry, comprised of Florida Bay, is shallow and warms quickly. Sometimes you have to suffer through some dead water for part of the day until the water warms a degree or two and voila! There they are!
The past month the snook bite continued to be solid, especially with all the finger mullet around. I know I sound like a broken record but I am so happy these fish are recovering so well. Mixed in withe the mullet were some decent sized jacks and the occasional monster sized (pushing 20 lb.) redfish. Although I wish the jacks had been larger, jacks in the five to seven pound range are still a blast to catch, especially on fly or light tackle. Hearing a customers knuckles getting rapped by a reel handle is not a good sound, but at the same time I know that whatever they fish for back home is probably not going to run off line like a jack crevalle. The funny thing about jacks is that when you want to catch them they can be almost impossible to get. They move so damned fast and are constantly cutting cutting right or left that getting a fly in front of them or even getting the boat positioned can be tough. The good thing is that any frustration is quickly forgotten when you find yourself looking at your backing in the blink of an eye.
Speaking of rod bending species, the trout and ladyfish bite the last month was also good. Sure, it’s not sight fishing or anything technical, but both fish species pull good and are a lot of fun. Sometimes we forget, but fishing is supposed to be fun! They’re great fish to hone skills on and a great stress reliever as well. With the cooler water temps, the Spanish mackerel bite has really fired up. The best bite is out in the Gulf and entirely weather dependent given the fact that you’re in a flats skiff, but when the winds are down and you can get to the fishing grounds, it is a blast! Until next time. -Pete