by Capt. Tom Van Horn
I would like to begin this report by wishing all of you a happy and prosperous New Year. 2017 was an excellent year for me as I was blessed by great family and friends, a great job and lots of fishing, life doesn’t get any better than that.
As water levels and temperatures drop, clear and shallow conditions on the inshore flats will make sight fishing the best we will see all year. Mullet and other finfish have migrated out of the area for the winter, so anglers should switch to smaller shrimp and crabs and a slower presentation. When targeting inshore species during the colder months, I like to downsize my lures and fish with a shrimp or crab imitation baits like the DOA Shrimp and Crab.
January and February are key months for targeting large black drum in the deeper channels and around the bridges. For the past several years the black drum populations have expanded on our lagoons, so I'm eager to see how they show up this year and target a few on the flats and to catch a few nice ones on fly.
Now is also the time for surf anglers to target pompano, bluefish, weakfish, small black drum, sheepshead, Spanish mackerel and whiting off the beaches and larger redfish and flounder around the inlets of Ponce De Leon, Port Canaveral and Sebastian. This bite is already good and should improve as we get further into the month. When the weather permits, like to fish just past the surf break in my skiff and fish with small jigs tipped with a live sand flea.
Lastly and my all-time favorite, the American shad run on the upper St. Johns River should be swinging into full gear by mid-January. And if this year's run is anything close to what we had last year, look out for Captain Tom and Three Quarter Time when you are passing through shad alley. Also, if you enjoy a fresh fish dinner occasionally, the specked perch (crappie) bite has been good in some areas and will continue to improve in all the big lakes, rivers and creeks in Central Florida.
As always, if you need more information or have questions please contact me.
Good luck and good fishing and happy holidays,
Captain Tom Van Horn
Mosquito Coast Fishing Charters