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December 2022

Fishing forecast for the Lower Florida Keys

Lower Florida Winter Fishing Report

   

According to the calendar, it is winter, but the daytime temperatures seem to disagree.  As of this morning, the Florida Keys are the warmest place in the continental US.  Despite the warm temperatures, we have started getting a taste of our winter fishery.

    Variety is a major reason why the Lower Keys is such a world renowned fishing destination.  We have year round fishing and options to attract all types of anglers.  As the seasons change and northern temperatures start to fall, its not just snow birds that show up in the Keys. Baitfish pour into the region by the thousands, and hot on their heels are the predators.  From mullet to ballyhoo and pilchards our focus is on the bait.  Follow the groceries and you will find the fish.  Birds help us locate life, so keep eyes on the horizon.

    Early winter jacks can be found in abundance roaming the inshore waters.  They feed fast, so be prepared to cover some territory looking for them.  I always have a few large topwater lures rigged this time of year.  Locating a school of Jacks chasing ballyhoo is even more exciting when fishing topwater. If watching multiple fish fight over a fast moving lure does not get you excited, then it is time to take up a different sport.  Tasty yellowjacks are commonly mixed in with the hordes of jack crevalles.  Having a well full of live bait can help keep the fish interested once you locate them. 

    The channels and basins have started to see more life.  The sea trout bite has picked up over the past few weeks and we have started seeing a few more of the wintertime regulars while jigging the muds.  One of the challenges lately has been locating which muds hold life.  There have been so many mullet schools around that it can be hard to locate the best areas.  Keep moving until you find action.  Channels have been a little less consistent but yellow jacks have helped keep action up even when the snapper bite has been slow.  I would expect to see more big snapper moving in over the coming weeks.

    Flats fishing has remained fairly steady lately.  Although tarpon, permit and bonefish opportunities decrease this time of year, barracuda and the occasional redfish start to fill out the opportunities.  I’ve seen more and more people targeting redfish and snook here in the Lower Keys over the past few years.  I strongly encourage people fishing for them to be conscious of how much they pressure them and to release them.  We don’t have a ton of them to begin with and it is easy to push them out of an area. Good luck and good fishing.