December was a real interesting month with all the different cold fronts beating us up, and I pretty much gave up fishing the flats and was sticking to the night time canal fishing except for a few of the warmer days. The canal fishing has been productive with the smaller slot black drums, but most the reds have vacated the premises. Seems like the usual crowd of surface busting pigs moved out the end of November unlike last year where they stuck around till just about the new year. December was a disappointing month for me all though plenty of fish were caught it just wasn't anything like last years Christmas pig-a-thon.
The new year is bringing with it some warmer air (for now), and some insane flats fishing. The fish that hunkered down through those cold spells are out feeding on the flats and in some places complete frenzies. I had my first charter of the year Wednesday with a fly fisherman from Boston, and all though I am not a fly enthusiast I will take fly clients if they are experienced and understand I can't offer them instruction. After watching the weather report for a few days it seemed as if they had no idea what the next few days would be like, and Wednesday turned out to be perfect I mean could not ask for better fishing conditions. Morning started off cool in the mid 50's and overcast with a slight breeze from the WNW, then in the afternoon it warmed up into the low 70's, and the sun would come out for 10-15min intervals and around 3:30pm the wind shifted to the SE at about 10mph.
We launched into the IRL around 8am and didn't have to go far to find tailing schooling reds and schooling trout hanging around a rather large deep sand depression surrounded by shallower grassy flats. My client and I went through his fly arsenal and picked a few candidates to start off with. With multiple targets to choose from he got to whipping that fly around and while he was working on getting a good presentation on the school, I started tossing out the top water plug to surrounding waters and the 2nd cast caught my first Red of the Year.
Unfortunately Craig was having a difficult time getting the proper presentation and we tried just about everything to get him hooked up on fly but you fly guys know how it is some days its just not happening. We moved around to a few different areas all of which were full of hundreds of blacks and reds and while he couldn't manage a red or a black he did connect with a little speckled sea trout.
I offered him the spinning reel multiple times but he stayed true to his fly obsession and kept going the whole day. I felt helpless but all I could keep telling him is it all in the angles. The kayak has to be positioned right for your casting, plus you need to account for the wind and the kayak drifting, then you need to make sure you cast the fly past the fish so when you are retrieving its coming past his nose like its a bait swimming away from him not at him. He worked on it all day.
Meanwhile every chance I got to pick up a reel resulted in a either a nice 20"+ trout which tally for the day was 13, or a nice slot or over slot redfish which I caught about a dozen or so. All reds and trout were caught on either a Super Spook Jr or a Jerk Shad of some type and color.
The afternoon came around Craigs half day charter was over, and I decided to stay out and invited him to tag along as well at no cost. So he and I went off to see if we could find him more cooperative fish and found a pleasant afternoon delight. Black drum in numbers and of good size!!! These fish have been around for years now but I have never seen them this fired up before. Schools everywhere to the point where you couldn't move the kayak without spooking them right next to you. Craig got to work practicing some of the tips I gave him and I proceeded to have round 2 of Black Drum Slaughter House. Bait of choice was Camo Colored 3" gulp shrimps on 1O circle hooks.
I ended up catching about a dozen or so Black Drum ranging from 24 - 32". I also caught my personal best Blackie coming in 36"+, swam right up to the boat before he realized he was hooked and then all hell broke loose as he swam through every school on the flat before being brought in for CPR.
This is definitely the best flats fishing trip in January I've had in a few years, and I hope the weather stays like this so it continues!! My client despite only catching a trout was extremely happy with his charter and said "Rob I hired you to put me on fish, and you put me on more fish then I've ever seen in one place in my life. You did your job, a fantastic job as a matter of fact, I knew at any second I could grab one of those spinning rods and caught a fish within seconds, but to be a good Fly fisherman you have to be persistent with it". I commended him for being so disciplined, as I would have dropped that fly rod for the spinning reel an hour into the day!!