Wednesday, December 1, 2021

December Fishing in the 10,000 Islands

Josh with a pair of Reds

Josh with a pair of Reds

By Capt. Pete Rapps

December is here and with it comes some big changes to the fishery in the Everglades National Park. Some good and some not so good. We typically have our first major cold front hit us after the middle of the month. We already had a few minor cold fronts come through in November, but nothing too extreme like last November. Expect Gulf water temperatures to drop down into the mid 60’s later in the month.

In December it is super important to keep a watchful eye on the tide charts. We have some more crazy low tides predicted both around the Full and New moon phases. On the mornings of the 9th, 14th and 20th-27th, you will wonder who let all of the water out of the drink! Every December I see aggravated anglers pacing impatiently at the launch ramp while they wait for enough tide to come in just so they can get their boats off the trailer. If they had only looked at the tide chart, they could have slept

John Czencz with a Snook.

John Czencz with a Snook.

a few hours later. I use www.

The flats have become alive with action and if you can get out on a beautiful sunny day without much wind, you will be rewarded with sore arms! All sorts of action fish will enthusiastically take what you offer. I like to start out fishing the 3-5’ grass flats on an incoming tide with a bucktail type jig. I like jigs with a lot of flash in the tail like Don’s Potbelly PBGF 2038. Grab a handful because the fish go crazy over them, and will most likely tear them into pieces on you. I like to throw them using 10lb line, with 2’ of 20lb fluorocarbon leader. Trout (catch and release until 1/1), Mackerel, Bluefish, Ladyfish, Pompano, Jacks, and just about everything in between will hit them.

The backwaters have come alive with action too. You can get into some good Snook back in the creeks and back bays. They will most likely be hiding in the deeper mangrove root pockets waiting for their next meal

Brittany with a Redfish.

Brittany with a Redfish.

to swim by on the outgoing tide. Try a Gulp Shrimp, live shrimp, or better yet, some live Pilchards!

Redfish, Sheepshead, and Mangrove Snapper will become a regular catch on the hard oyster bottoms and deep mangrove root pockets in the Gulf side mouths of the many rivers in the 10,000 Islands.

I have developed a Species Availability Chart relative to the Backwater and Nearshore areas that I fish in the Everglades National Park. You can see it at

Capt. Rapps has been fishing the Chokoloskee area for just over 20 years. He offers expert guided, light tackle, near shore, and backwater fishing trips in the 10,000 Islands of the Everglades National Park, and is happy to accommodate anyone from men, women, & children of all ages, experienced or not, and those with special needs. Pete and his captains are extremely patient and love to teach. You can book a charter right online 24/7. See the online availability calendar, booking info, videos, recipes, seasonings, and first class web site at and you can reach him at 239-571-1756.

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