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By Capt. Brylee
Special to the Pioneer
December has arrived already and with cooler water temperatures and more stable weather patterns anglers should be excited. The unpredictable conditions we see every year during the Hurricane Season have come to a halt starting in November when the tropics settled down.
While the winter months offer less daylight hours for fishing, the results often will be more fish in less time. In addition the rapid temperature changes from very cool in the evenings to mild temperatures throughout the day create more exaggerated feeding times. The cool waters make the fish more active and in retrospect feed more as well.
Our coastal temperatures have maintained in the mid-70s for the past several weeks and the fishing reports have reflected increased activity than in previous months for both in-shore and off-shore anglers.
While live baits are always the most natural baits for fish to bite many in-shore anglers choose to use soft plastics and lures. This will broaden the types and color of baits you can throw as well as allowing for quicker line changes and more variety as to the size of your bait.
Fishing with lures and soft baits on jig heads will also allow you to fish different speed retrieves and depths much easier than trying to adjust live baits to find the action. Free- lining jigs and bouncing your bait off the bottom is a very common way of fishing but many anglers have resorted to using a popping cork to suspend their bait.
While fishing with a popping cork will increase the visual aspect of getting a bite, often you will lose the “feel” of your bite which many times will make you that split second late in setting your hook. As mentioned before the cooler temperatures make the fish less lethargic and far more aggressive on the baits so you may only have one shot at setting your hook into the one you and your friends will be talking about and exaggerating on future fishing trips.
In-shore anglers should also be excited for the simple reasons that not only are the fish more frisky this time of year, the “big ones” are in-shore taking advantage of the cooler waters and the increase in bait fish. Large trout and reds have been reported being caught on both of Florida’s coast lines from Crystal River to Steinhatchee on the Gulf side and from Jacksonville to Ft. Pierce on the Atlantic, bull reds have been the hot catch.
Our feature catch this week is by Robin McCord and her son Tyler McCord. Tyler and Robin were very excited about their trip as it was the first time the two of them had been fishing together, just the two of them. Typically they accompanied by Robin’s partner Richard Holley whose role has always been to decide when and where to fish as well as what baits they were going to use.
So without the guidance of their mentor angler, they set out in a small aluminum boat and manned the trolling motor into Lanark Bay just east of Carrabelle. It was late in the evening and as every fisherman who has ever taught his girlfriend or wife to fish knows, the inevitable happened.
After a few hours of fishing and just before dark, rigged with a New Penny colored Ghost Shrimp by Gulp under a popping cork, Robin’s line began to sing like a jailbird trying to get early release. Her line peeled of the spool like a bat out of hell. After setting the hook and realizing this fish was not going to slow down, Tyler turned the trolling motor to its fastest speed and began to chase the fish across the bay. When she could, Robin reeled in drag and waited for the fish to take another fierce run away from the boat. After several retrieves from Robin and runs from fish, the monster had begun to tire and at least quit pulling the boat all over Lanark Bay. At this point Tyler and Robin were certain they had hooked a big shark that was feeding in the shallows of the bay.
Robin continued to reel in and as the fish began to come closer and closer they still couldn’t tell what type of fish it was as it had become dark in the time she wrestled with the beast.
Upon boating the fish Robin and Tyler ran the boat as fast as they could to the shore-line and Robin, gloating with pride, stands at the door and yells to Richard “Looky at the fish I caught.” Richard looks through the door and saw Robin holding a hug bull red! It was over 40 inches in length and weighed in at over 30 pounds. The only thing bigger that evening than Robin’s first “bull red” ever was the smile on her face and I am sure the razzing will not stop until Richard lands one bigger.