Assuming the forecast holds, the big Christmas chill will be followed by your basic, run-of-the-mill crappy fishing weather, complete with north winds that get you looking for a bulwark to tuck behind.
Assuming you go out at all.
If the longer-range promises stand up, by the new year you’ll get some decent weather and be able to get out there to test-drive the new gifts — Dad can dial in the Garmin while Junior makes three casts before bird-nesting his new Zebco.
Garmin a little too rich for your blood? Well, maybe use this downtime to go fishing for apps. And better yet, free apps, all designed to make your fishing experience a better one.
OK, just gonna lay it out there. A certain segment of our audience here isn’t what you’d call phone-savvy. And app-savvy? That’s so far down the road you can’t see it.
FISHBITESThe idespan for Fishbites begspann with young Billy Cspanrr in New Smyrnspan Bespanch
SNOOK!FISHING REPORT: Snook spanre off-limits; ‘speckled crspanppie’ on fire in St. Johns lspankes
But trust me, if you’re a tad fuzzy on how to get in tune with the modern world of cell phones and all the magic they put at your fingertips, get someone to do the installing for you. There’s good stuff out there you’ll actually enjoy. Seriously.
The water’s nice, come on in.
Capt. Jeff Patterson, a veteran guide in the area, runs down the list of the must-haves, all of which he has, by the way.
“I use ‘Tides Near Me’ for tides and the ‘Windy’ app for wind and wave height at the inlet and close to the beach,” he says.
Ever think you know everything, only to be fooled yet again? For the angler, that’s when the “Fish Rules” app comes in handy.
“Great for regulations and closed seasons,” Capt. Jeff says.
Just brought a trout to the pier or boat? Something gnawing at you?
The Fish Rules app will give you the slot limits on that spotted beauty, but even if you thread that needle, right now the app will also tell you to quickly toss it back — it’s out of season for another week or so. Under the “additional information” window, it’ll also tell you the trout’s edibility is rated as “excellent.”
But what if you can’t look up the info on a fish because — and this happens to most of us — you don’t know what just plopped at your feet? In reality, they should call it the app, but marketing and all. Instead, it’s called “FishVerify,” and if you send those gremlins a picture, they’ll send you an answer.
Suddenly, the “dark ages” seem like just a decade or so ago.
C-Map will help you get from here to there, and also warn you where the shallow water sits. Fishbrain will make you part of a worldwide community of anglers, where you can solicit tips and share stories of the one that got away, as well as share pics of the one that didn’t.
If you’re inclined to ignore all these freebies and go on doing it like you’ve always done it, God bless you. You’re probably doing it the same old way because the same old way serves you well.
We should all be that lucky. Or good, as the case may be.
But if you’re even the slightest bit OK with modern tech and the super-computer tucked into your hip pocket, you might want to take advantage of it all.
Will it help you catch fish? Maybe. Maybe not.
But it sure won’t hurt. Well, unless you’re staring at the phone when your rod bends and you miss the chance to set the hook on a keeper.
As happens from time to time, it seems the fish were fattening up ahead of the coming temperature plunge. Must be some back-channel weather app they use.
“There’s a bunch of different fish chewing lately,” says Capt. Jeff Patterson (Pole Dancer). “Black drum have been at all of the bridges between Ormond and New Smyrna. Sheepshead are there, too, and some nice 3-to-4 pound fish are being caught.”
He says he’s finding trout at drop-offs around oyster bars, but remember, they’re catch-and-release until Jan. 1.
Gene Lytwyn (The Fishin’ Hole in Daytona Beach) echoes the talk of black drum and sheepshead, calling the bite “strong.”
“Generally fishing with crabs or shrimp around structure like bridges, docks and jetties,” Gene says.
Capt. Barry Englehardt, who generally focuses on the Tomoka River area, says the mangrove snapper are still biting, but the cold will surely send them scurrying. Also, he reports, “a few trout and a flounder. And one big snook that wrapped the line around a tree limb.”
Those who get out there on the shoreline are seeing occasional schools of pompano heading south. Wonder how far south they’ll be heading in the coming days.
Pesky bluefish are also making noise.
Dustin Smith (NSB Shark Hunters), whose business has been knee-capped by hurricane damage to beach approaches and walkways, headed west this past week to Apollo Beach on the Gulf Coast. And it paid off.
“Three black-tips,” he said, “5½ to 6 feet.”
Nothing to see here, folks, move along.
It’s been a tough few months for the offshore crowd, particularly the Sea Spirit folks, who have bills to pay. The area’s only head-boat will surely get off the Ponce Inlet dock eventually, and the sooner the better.
Stop me if you heard this one before . . .
Specks, specks, specks.
“We’re seeing limits of speckled perch brought in,” says Capt. Bryn Adams from the docks at Highland Park Fish Camp in DeLand. “We had a couple slow days during the last front that came through, but the good news is the fish have moved to the bank.
“So if you don’t like to troll, and you want to target them on the bank, now is the time to come go fishing. Artificial jigs still remain the best bait. Top colors are pink, chartreuse and orange.”
That enough info for you?
Oh, wait, there’s also this: “If you stop in at Highland Park,” Capt. Bryn says, “we’ll point out the right stuff.”
They’re good like that.
Hook, line and clicker: Send us your fish pics
We want to see your most recent catch. Email your fish photos to [email protected].
Please include first and last name of angler(s), as well as type of fish (we’re occasionally stumped). All are included with our online fishing report, and some occasionally make the print edition.
Do I need a fishing license?
You can find all the license info, including exemptions, on Florida’s Fish and Wildlife Commission website: MyFWC.com. But the basics are:
No: If you’re 65 or older, 15 or younger, you don’t need a license.
No: If you’re fishing with a licensed guide or charter boat, both of which purchase commercial licenses that cover their customers.
Yes: Most everyone else, including visitors from other states.
Yes: Even if you’re a shore-based angler (shoreline, dock, pier, bridge, etc.). However: The shore-based license is free . . . But: You still need to register for that free license.
Where do I get a license and what does it cost?
Many bait shops sell licenses, as do the bigger retailers (Bass, Dick’s, Walmart, etc.).
Florida’s FWC uses a third-party site for buying or renewing fishing licenses: GoOutdoorsFlorida.com.
The cost: $17 for an annual license.
Don’t forget: Whether you’re fishing fresh or saltwater, you need the specific license. Freshwater and saltwater licenses are both $17 annually.
I’m here on vacation, do I need a license?
Yes you do, and they’re also available at GoOutdoorsFlorida.com or certain bait shops and big retailers.
Cost: $17 for three days, $30 for seven days, $47 for a year.Also: Non-residents need to purchase that license even if they’re just fishing from shoreline or shore-based structures. (Florida residents need that license, too, but they’re free.)