December was warmer than usual, with a cold front passing through after the first week of the month. Only then did the wind and waves and cold air hurt the fishing here on Pier 60.
Lots of Silver Perch, also known locally as Butterfish, we caught in the afternoons and evenings here. Small but tasty, the Butterfish were taken on single or double-hook rigs using cut shrimp or cut squid.
Silver Trout were also seen in some abundance, with nice fish in the 8 to 12-inch range taken. Silver Trout have no size or bag limits, like the Silver Perch and Whiting, and are a bit more partial to shrimp rather than squid.
Whiting were biting on shrimp and squid, with many fishermen taking home a dozen or more fish in the 10-inch to 14-inch range. Their natural diet of small crustaceans and mollusks impart their flesh with a very sweet, mild flavor.
Spotted Sea Trout season remained closed for December, but a lot of fish were caught and released here during the month. Season re-opens January 1st. Minimum size is 15 inches, bag limit of four fish, with only one fish per angler over 20 inches.
There have been Sheepshead feeding amongst the pilings of the pier, and some anglers have been able to catch a few of these chunky delicious fish for a meal. Sheepshead can be targeted by fishing a small morsel of shrimp on a small hook. Look for Sheepshead grazing on the pilings, chum a few pieces of cut shrimp, then put your hook weighted with only a split-shot down next to the pilings. When the line moves or twitches, set the hook and pull up your Sheepshead. If the hook comes up empty, try again with a smaller bait, and watch for the tell-tale bite. You will see it before you feel it in most cases.
The mild weather of December allowed the water temperatures to stay warm enough for quite a bit of Spanish Mackerel action during the daytime. The Mackerel were feeding on live shrimp, lures like the Got-Cha plugs, and cut bait fished under a bobber.
We saw quite a few Flounder here this month on Pier 60. These were not the “doormats” but smallish fish from 12 to 15 inches; still nice to see.
Some Pompano were caught this month, and also some small Gag Grouper. Gag Grouper season remains closed to recreational anglers, however.
BlackTip Sharks have been around all month, providing a powerful fight for some anglers. BonnetHead Sharks were seen swimming around most nights, and many small ones were caught and released here in December. Many of the smaller ones were youngsters, as this area seems to be a nursery for baby sharks.
For best fishing success, try to get out before the cold fronts pass. Fish seem to feed heavily in advance of the fronts. Once the fronts pass, waves, wind, and cold air combine to make the fishing poor, or at least uncomfortable for the fishermen.
Good Luck Fishing!