You know how they say “confession is good for the soul?”
I’ve got a confession for you.
I have no clue where to fish this month. I mean, that’s not entirely true – I do know that snook should be transitioning into their winter haunts, and that means the canals and docks of Harbor Heights and Punta Gorda and Port Charlotte should be packed with linesiders.
I also know that fish tend to feed very well right before a front.
That’s it. That’s everything I have for fishing in December. Fish before the front. Fish the rivers for snook (and occasional redfish, and some nice trout). Or wait until 3 days post-front when it warms up again.
Why? Why would a celebrated fishing genius such as myself have no idea where to fish in December?
Because of an addiction. To ducks.
This month is THE month duck season starts in earnest. December 10, to be exact.
You’re talking to (reading from) one of the few (only) guides in Florida who will hunt all 69 days of ducks season, meaning, while I don’t know exactly where to steer you into a strong redfish bite this month, I do know exactly what to expect when it comes to waterfowl.
What to expect? Scads upon scads of ducks. We’ve experienced a dry stretch that has water down over a foot in some of my local haunts. This means pods of teal aren’t sitting in flooded cow pastures, just out of reach, taunting and frolicking amid the safety of barbed wire and gates. Nope. They are all funneling into the usual, traditional haunts, and the results are already showing themselves.
Wood ducks are my favorites, and have been the headliners so far this season. Pods upon pods of these colorful little bombers are plentiful in any backwoods hole with duckweed (how appropriate) . . . Find the food, find the wood ducks, and this year, find lots of them. My parties harvested 27 woodies during Phase I, all on public land, all decoying in.
Divers are number 2 on my list – their willingness to work the decoys making them so much fun. Ringers, bluebills (greater and lesser scaup), redheads, and even a few Canvasbacks have been showing up and rafting up, way earlier than the past few seasons. These birds want big water, typically, so look for points adjacent to open water, particularly along natural flight lines. Lake O, Charlotte Harbor, anywhere in the Kissimmee chain, Tampa Bay – all hold huge rafts of divers right now, that should only grow with this weeks impending “arctic blast.”
Finally come the puddle ducks. Teal, mottleds, pintails, wigeon – there are plenty of all of these birds around, but they have been a little less predictable than the aforementioned woodies and divers. Mottleds have been a guarantee, albeit the one duck per hunter limit can make them a bit of a nuisance while waiting for other, lower value ducks to show up. Pintails have been making appearances, marking the end of the the photoperiod migrators as we stare down the winter solstice. The best opportunity to harvest a trophy sprig will come in the next 3-4 weeks. Blue wings are covering up the STA’s, the Everglades, and basically any field holding more than 6″ of grass. Our MO has become to target wood ducks and mottleds, and pick up the other species as collateral to round out our bags.
Want specifics on where to find these birds? Hit me up on social media @travisthompson or [email protected] – while I’m was less willing to give up a duck spot than, say, a redfish hole, I’m usually happy to point you in the right direction. If you’re really anxious to pull the trigger on some ducks, I do have a handful of openings in December and January.
Be safe, be respectful of other outdoorsmen, and get outside.