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Fishing | Fishing on Christmas day? Expect low, slow tides and rain

By CAPT. GEORGE TUNISON - Fishing | Dec 21, 2023

Capt. George Tunison

If you plan to be on the water Christmas morning, expect a very low 0.7-foot, slow moving, all-day incoming tide, topping out at 2.0 feet before midnight. If you aren’t familiar with the area’s shallow waters, by all means don’t stray from the marked channel pathway or you may experience not only hull damage but possible personal injuries and-or a huge recovery bill if you don’t have on the water insurance.

The Christmas day forecast also calls for scattered rain and afternoon temps peaking at 78 degrees. With a dead slow tide, a full moon period plus cold water, Christmas day inshore fishing will probably be “challenging” at best.

Christmas week inshore casters will also need to slow their retrieves and fish using lighter lines, leaders and smaller lures while working near or on bottom in deeper water. Sleep in and fish the afternoon shift when the water is slightly warmer. Just a few degrees can make a big difference. Added scents, bits of shrimp or soft lures like GULP with built-in scent attractants add to artificial lure success especially for bottom-feeding, cold-tolerant redfish. For slow fishing the very bottom of deep creeks channels or marinas during the cold water period, GULP Shrimp and DOA’s TerrorEyz on 1/8 to 1/4 ounce jig heads are top choices

Afternoon-warmed trout are dependable biters of corked shrimp or if bait isn’t your deal, then try hanging DOA’s smaller 2.70-inch plastic shrimp under a float and quietly drift the grass flats. Another hot soft plastic to run under a float is DOA’s tiniest sized TerrorEyz in silver flake color.

Nearshore reefs have been heavy with sheepshead and this past week of cold will push them inshore to most structures where they will do their best to steal whatever you drop down to them, which makes them a favorite of bait stores. Fiddler crabs are considered a top bait but shrimp and oyster bits work as well as long as they’re presented on super sharp light wire hooks. Take your flat point shovel to scrape those bridge piling barnacles into the water to start a feeding frenzy down below.

Remember that the Cape’s downtown area canals can host some great sheepie fishing which can save the day when you just need to fish but it’s too windy on open waters. Side scanning sonar and a little research time will help you find big schools on canal structures. Check out the internet for the Garlic Parmesan Crusted Sheepshead recipe, which is fabulous.

Another top eating inshore Florida fish, the pompano, is available this time of year and a true taste delight. Think small, colorful, short-skirted pomp jigs or the classic Goofy Jig rig. Tipping with tiny bits of shrimp adds to the action. Their season is open year-round requiring an 11-inch fork length to harvest and 6 a day allowed to go home.

One member of the huge family of absolutely beautiful fishes called wrasses is the colorful yet odd looking hog fish which swim in closer to the coast in winter and one of the best tasting reef fish Florida has to offer. Unlike snook, which start life as males and change to females later in life, hog fish start as females then later, at around 14 inches in length, change to males. These fish have traditionally been top targets for spear divers but anglers can cash in as well because hogs love shrimp. Chumming the reef with shrimp bits gets them excited and catchable. In Gulf waters, a 14-inch fork length for harvest with 5 per day limit. The world record hook and line hog weighed in at nearly 22 pounds with a 24.5-pound North Carolina specimen holding the spearfishing world record weight.

Wishing everyone good health and happiness this Christmas and great angling in 2024. Go slow if you don’t know,and wear those life vests!

Capt. George Tunison is a Cape Coral resident fishing guide. You can contact him at 239-282-9434 or via email at captgeorget3@aol.com.