December was a great time to fish on Pier 60 on Clearwater Beach. Water temperatures and air temperatures stayed in the high to mid 60s most all month. We saw many varieties of fish caught and the quantities were good as well.
Whiting were caught with regularity this month, and many of the fish were of good size; up to 18 inches, and that’s about as large as we ever see them here. Along with the Whiting we saw good numbers of Silver Trout, Butterfish, and Croakers. The preferred bait has been live shrimp or bits of fresh-dead shrimp. Large Sabiki Rigs also work well here for these fish when they are in schools, when it is possible to catch multiple fish at one time. All these species are unregulated, with only a limit of 100 lbs each type per fisherman per day.
There were quite a few Sheepshead feeding around the base of the pilings that support the pier. Careful observation will show you where these “feeding stations” are. Minimum size on the Sheepshead is 12 inches, with a bag limit of 15 fish per day per fisherman.
Spotted SeaTrout were caught primarily in the evening hours. Spotted Trout seem to prefer a live shrimp over anything else; however, they are quick to bite a grub tail lure that is tipped with a bit of fresh shrimp. Minimum size on the Spotted SeaTrout is 15 inches with a bag limit of four fish -one of the four fish per day may be over 20 inches.
Of course we saw a lot of small Sharks caught this month on Pier 60 as usual. BonnetHead Sharks and small Sand Sharks were the most prevalent species seen. Our policy on Sharks is to let them go without harming them here on Pier 60. As we say, we don’t bite the sharks, and they don’t bite us.
One surprise this month was that there were a number of large Snook at the end of the Pier following small fish upwards into the lights as they were being caught. Richard Ruzzo, from the Chicago area, had a large Snook inhale a free-lined Silver Perch but he was unable to get a good hookset and the fish got away! None of us expected to see this number of Snook this late in the year and so we were all a bit surprised.
Another story related to me by Richard from Chicago was that several fishermen were all standing around at the end of the pier with their rods lined up against the rails when all of a sudden, without any warning at all, one fisherman’s’ rod went flying through the air at least 20 yards, landed in the water, and just kept going! After a few moments of disbelief the fishermen looked at each other and then everyone burst out laughing! Sometimes being over-awed by nature is a good thing.
Fishing hours for December, January and February are 6AM- 9:30PM. Fridays and Saturdays we are still open 24 hours. This schedule will remain until March 1st when we go back to 24 hour a day fishing seven days a week.
Good Luck Fishing!