Fishing can be great, but you’ll need to watch the weather and rainfall.
With hunting seasons all about to be in full swing, the all-around sportsman in South Alabama has a real problem. Fish or hunt? Sure, hunting season is a finite adventure, but some of the fishing opportunities in December have sportsmen really facing a dilemma. I myself have that nagging decision. Do I bypass some great duck hunting options to take advantage of the great (though limited) fishing action? Or do I choose whatever action is hottest? Oh, the problems facing the southern sportsman! Let’s look at a few fishing options in this month’s coastal fishing outlook.
If we have not been flooded by rains in south Alabama by now, the speckled trout action should be reaching its peak. Salty waters have crept into the rivers, along with shrimp and other baits. Speckled trout, redfish, and white trout have all been gorging themselves on Nature’s Bounty. Over on the Mobile Delta, the Tensaw, Spanish and Raft Rivers should be holding specks and reds deep along the bottom, especially in the deep holes. Shrimp will seek refuge in the deeper saltier areas till pushed out by fresh water. Soft plastic grubs fished on 3/8ths oz. heads will take the fish while slowly pulled through these deep holes. When waters get colder the specks seem to react better to the smaller soft plastics. Sparkle Beetles in root beer or smoke colors are popular choices for December fish.
“Fowl River is the annual ‘safe zone’ for anglers seeking saltwater and sanctuary specks and whites during the Christmas month.”
Over on the Blakely River, you should be able to find speckled trout and reds near deep waters with shallow bars nearby. Two places that fit this description are North Pass on the west side of Blakely and Hieronymus Pass at Lake Forest Yacht Club. Darker grubs worked along these drop off will be gobbled up if waters remain clear.
As the annual rainfall that comes in December starts to muddy up the head of Mobile Bay and its rivers, saltwater fish start pushing into rivers and basins on the east and west sides of the bay. Over on the east side, the Fly Creek area holds somewhat clear and salty water, while the bay is fresher due to annual rainfall. Saltwater fish push up into Fly Creek seeking sanctuary and more feeding options. If you can still locate live shrimp, be sure to take along several dozen. Hungry specks, whites, and sheepshead will be glad to plunge your cork this month. Otherwise, start probing the area with grubs in your search to find the active fish.
Over on the west side, Fowl River is the annual ‘safe zone’ for anglers seeking saltwater and sanctuary specks and whites during the Christmas month. Slow sinking twitch baits, such as Rapala Twitchin Raps and X-Raps take a lot of fish on Fowl River. Some anglers modify their hard baits by using stick-on weights or changing to heavier and larger treble hooks. Some experimenting is required to get the weight just right. Chrome colors are always a good option, with chartreuse right behind in effectiveness.
Dog River is another sanctuary spot to locate speckled trout in December. The deep area near the mouth of the river and just outside the bridge can hold some quality fish this month. Grubs fished slowly along the bottom take most of the fish. At times you can also run into some good sized white trout in these same areas in December using the same technique.
December is not an ideal month to be on the water offshore, but if you watch the weather closely, you can make a trip that will bring a smile to your face. While he is an avid deer hunter, Capt. Chris Dalton out of Dauphin Island tends to fall into what he calls the “December deer doldrums.”
“We slowly feed out the pogies to create a chum-line around the rigs.”
“During the month of December, after being hunted for a while, the deer get mighty spooky and will move sparingly during the day. At this time I find the effort is not worth the frustration and look for different ways to enjoy the December outdoors. I try and gather up a crew and head for familiar tuna territory if the weather is safe,” Dalton said. “We head for the Petronius, Ram-Powell, Beer Can or Marlin Rig. Once there I like to drop diamond jigs in the six-to-eight ounce sizes. If blackfin are present, we catch a few to eat and a few to use as chunk bait for the yellowfins.”
Besides using blackfin for chum, Dalton also is sure to bring along some pogies to attract the bigger yellowfin.
“We slowly feed out the pogies to create a chum-line around the rigs. We stay away, being sure not to get too close to the rigs to prevent the constant hook-ups with sharks,” Dalton said.
Making a trip that far offshore, Dalton likes to include a little night fishing as well. “When you are out at night, you will do a lot better with underwater illumination to attract all sorts of bait fish to your position. I also like to have some lights on the boat aiming down on the water’s surface. Often, you will have flying fish collide with the hull of your boat. While the flying fish are stunned, we scoop them up with a long-handled net. Yellowfins love flying fish!” Dalton explained.
Bass will still be available along the river banks of the Mobile Tensaw Delta this month till waters start to muddy up from annual rainfall. Once this happens you should concentrate your efforts on the Lower Delta creeks to find clearer water and agreeable bass. Short-billed plugs in the crawfish color is an excellent choice for these fish. Look for drains leading from the marsh to run these crankbaits by. If you come across a wooded structure, be sure to fish it thoroughly with soft plastics in the darker colors.
Bream will also be holding in the creeks during December. Use live crickets or seed shrimp if you can catch some. Take a fine mesh net and sweep it under grass edges to catch the tiny shrimp. Don’t be surprised if you catch a few small crawfish using this bait catching method.
The creeks off of Dog River will also be holding bream in December. Concentrate of piers and boat docks to find the bream and occasional white perch.
We will be at the mercy of Mother Nature as to how well the fishing action is in December. Hopefully, we can find enough fishable water to enjoy ourselves and make a fish fry.
See you on the water!
Capt. Chris Dalton