Matt Badolato Fall and Winter Fishing Season

  It’s Thanksgiving, I just drank a couple of Blue Moon Winter Abbey Ales, pan-fried a fresh-caught pompano and I’ll admit, I’m feeling pretty sentimental.
     I’ll start out by saying how thankful I am—and we all should be—for living here in Central Florida. I know this is usually saved for the New Year, but I’d like to reflect on some of the good things that happened for me this year.
     I’d also like to say how thankful I am that you people of the sea continue to actually read my stuff. I wouldn’t get my weekly compensation of an expired carton of Ramen Noodles and a case of RC Cola if you all didn’t read me. So I’m thankful for you.
     Okay, enough of the schmaltzy stuff. Let’s talk us some fishing.
     I’m thankful for flounder because they thoroughly piss me off. In the summer, when the water is clear offshore, I can go out to the deep reefs and spear ten of them on a tank of air and still have time to enjoy the scenery. But now that it’s winter and the water is dirty offshore, I’m telling you, I’m starting to have withdrawals.
     Catching them in the inlets is easy when they are biting and tough when they are not. This year has been tough so far—mainly because it has been just too dang warm. The trick is going to fish for them on the cold days, and you’ve got plan ahead. Watch the Weather Channel—Jim Cantore will lead you to the flounder. If he says it’s gonna be cold next weekend, you bet your butt those flounder are going to be migrating out that inlet. If it drops down to 60 degrees during the day, that will trigger them.
     Catch mullet on the shallow flats, residential canals or anywhere else you think you can find some warm water. Remember, the shallows warm up first.
     Mullet are the best baits for big flatties. Period. End of sentence. Fish them near the bottom and use a 30-40 pound leader. Don’t get discouraged if you hang up on some rocks and lose a few rigs—it happens to everyone. But you should get discouraged if the guy next to you is catching some nice flounder and you still haven’t caught a toadfish. You suck. J
     The trolling is also getting really good this month. The water temps are around 77 degrees which is perfect for late season dolphin and wahoo fishing. If you really want to target a big wahoo, get your butt out there during the full moon. I don’t know what it is, but those fish ALWAYS hit on a full moon. ALWAYS. It may have to do with strong tides pushing over the reefs and jacking up the rips, or schools of kingfish moving deep—I DON’T KNOW! But they are there.
     For dolphin and sails out of Sebastian, Fort Pierce and the Port, find those color changes and scattered weeds. We’ll have some serious easterly winds in the coming months, so the Sargassum will be really chopped up. But there will still be some fish out there, especially in the Stream. If the water drops below 74, they’ll head further south until spring.
     My favorite fishing this time of year is certainly pompano fishing on the beach. I’ll wake up, check the cams on SurfGuru to make sure the seas are behaving and load up my pickup truck. December-February are the best times for the pomps, because they are coming down from the northern states seeking warmer water. BUT, they don’t like it too warm, so it’s best we get a few cold fronts to push ‘em down. If you need a wetsuit to surf in, chances are there’s pompano hanging around.
     Sandfleas are the perfect bait for them. They are easy to catch (when they’re around), one will fit nicely on a hook and they are FREE! FREE I TELL YOU! Sorry, I got excited.
     Go fish for pompano after the wind has been blowing from the north for a week. The water will be crisp, clear and cold—just like they like it. And it doesn’t have to be calm—they are tough fish built to feed in rough surf, which is probably why they taste so dang good.
     So good in fact, that I think I’ll go eat the other half of the one I caught this morning.
     Live slow, surf fast, dive deep and fish every bait like it was your last,
Matt B

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