Capt. Dave Pinkham
December 3, 2001
Venice - Saltwater Fishing Report
Winter Fishing Off Venice Florida Can Be Hot!
December is a great month for fishing out on the Gulf of Mexico. Cooling water temperatures should help get the grouper and snapper in the feeding mood. So far this season we really haven't had much in the way of cold weather fronts yet. Who knows, a good blast of cold air might be just what the doctor ordered. Be sure though if you plan on fishing offshore in the next several weeks to keep a close eye on the weather.
As the cold fronts do make their way down across Florida, the chilly north winds often kick up the sea conditions. Because of this, it's a good idea to pick and choose which days to make a run out on the Gulf. Of course the best time to fish will be when the sun is shinning and the wind is not blowing too hard. Look for these nicer days after the cold fronts have blown through and high pressure has brought with it clear blue skies and sunny days.
The main run of king mackerels seem to have already high-tailed it on south of these parts, although we're still picking up a few stragglers while trolling between bottom holes. Saturday afternoon we ran into some huge schools of baitfish offshore, most of it was Spanish sardines out in about 80' foot of water. The little tunny were having a hey-day with all the bait.
Gag grouper fishing should really start picking up now that winter is on our doorstep. The cooler water temperatures that pushed the kingfish south of our region will often push gag grouper into short bottom. To catch them I suggest you concentrate on hard bottom such as a ledge, an area of coral, shipwreck, or one of the artificial reefs. Some of the best grouper bites we've been on have been located just by searching with the bottom graph. Once you find some sort of structure, the key to success is to try to get your boat anchored directly over or up wind of it. Now, using live and or cut bait drop your rig to the bottom. It's really that simple! A good stout pole with fairly heavy line (50-pound test) should be used. Gags tend to hit hard, and then run for the nearest cover, so hang on and crank the handle!
Mangrove snapper should fill the gap if the gags don't want to cooperate. You'll find these tasty snappers at the same hot spots as the grouper. When targeting snapper try using a lighter pole. I like to use a 30-pound rig. Snapper will hit just about any natural bait when they're hungry.
Well, good luck and good fishing, and remember if you're not out fishin you're wishin you were. Get out and go fishin cuz' it's good fer ya!