December provides the last of the fall fishing patterns with colder water and more frequent northeasters arriving in January and February. Trout and redfish usually bite well this month. Rat reds and the occasional slot red are in the creeks. Larger reds can be caught in the inlet and near the jetty rocks. Speckled and yellowmouth trout are plentiful in the river and creeks. The yellowmouth feed near the bottom, whereas the speckled trout are higher in the water column. Black drum catches increase at the jetties and in the river. Blue crab or fresh dead shrimp work best for drum. We continue to catch the occasional flounder, but most of the larger fish have moved offshore for the winter.
As the water cools, the sheepshead bite picks up. These striped, powerful fish are excellent eating and challenging to catch on light tackle. Their bite is very subtle and difficult to detect. It feels more like a “pressure” than a normal bite. I usually tell my customers to raise their rods if they feel anything unusual happening at the end of their lines. We catch them near jetty rocks or pilings in the river or ICW on fiddler crabs fished on jigs or carolina rigs. Blue crabs and clams are also excellent baits for sheepshead.