As December passes us by, I think about all the great fishing from years gone by all the way to my childhood. With it I think of countless adventures. Some of my fondest fishing memories have been built up from some 30 plus years of hard fishing days spent chasing some of our state’s most challenging saltwater species.December can be a challenging month in NC for saltwater fishing. Changing temps, clearer water cooling down, massive fast moving fronts, disappearing bait and fickle target species. Aside from fighting the elements clear water and changing feeding patterns are likely the toughest pieces of the puzzle.Let’s start with clearer water. It’s my experience that color, scent, presentation and location tactics come more into play in these conditions. Lure color; in clearer water for trout this time of year I prefer more natural lighter colors with 12-15 # leader. In darker water (which I prefer) I switch to darker more earthy tones. In this scenario you can use heavier leader. 15-20 # if oysters rocks are prevalent. Scent, frequently I’ve found that regardless of water depth or clarity sometimes scent is the over the top aspect of success. I have had good success with gulp, however I’m partial to pro-cure scents or Z-man’s with pro-cure scent.
Feeding patterns. As the water clears and cools down bait can get scarce and metabolism slow. Is that really different from us? They wish to stay warm and expend less energy to obtain food. So yes finding bait is good, but making the target species bite isn’t always that easy. Slower retrieve is always worth a try. Also taking into consideration your target species base behaviors. Food, where will it hold up on that days wind and what role will that days/weeks temps play in their behavior. Another consideration is this, less activity or competion from secondary species plays a part. So think minimal, less surface disturbance (lighter lure weight) and quieter presentation in general. Spoiler fish in essence.
To summarize the general topics, target species predator patterns vary in our waters for the winter. Back to lesson one…. stay alive which means staying warmer, eating less and burning less energy to do so. Finding and patterning bait is important, knowing your target zones is key. Being able to understand and hopefully predict target species and bait behavior will guide you to find those warmer zones where redfish , trout or stripers will be on those cold days.
Coming up for January/February will be some product spotlights included in my fishing report with gear that helped make my winter more successful and more pleasant. The right gear and good gear make all the difference as a professional and significant difference to any avid outdoorsman.
So this is becoming one of my best winter’s ever, I look forward to it continuing in that direction. Come join me for North Carolina Crystal Coast fishing as its finest.