Fishing Key West In December

sailfish sailfishing December
Sailfish come through in December

December Table Of Contents

I really love this time of the year here in Key West. December has some of our best weather and the beginning of the month room rates are low and so are the number of people on island. Of course there is Christmas week which can get a bit hectic and crowded. Overall December is a great time to visit the Southernmost Island City. 

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The Weather in December

In a word… “Perfect”… Out side the occasional cold front December brings us dryer air and temps in the mid to upper 70s with lows that can reach down to the 50s in a cold front that will not last long. North Easterly winds prevail with the occasional hard Northwester ushering in the next frontal boundary. Look for notes on wind directions and species to look for as you read on this page about Fishing Key West in December. 

December Inshore Fishing

A transition month for a late winter here in Key West the inshore fishing can still be a bit of this or that. It will be all about water temps and wind directions for the shallows which are the first to feel and fastest to react to a cold weather effect. This can change the bite over night in the shallows. Often for good both ways depending on what an angler would like to target. 

Flats Fishing

Jack crevalle caught in December
This Jack crevalle was caught on the flats tailing behind a sting ray.

Not a fantastic month for our “big three” game fish on the flats here in Key West. December can offer the occasional cold front and the species that live in the shallows are the first to feel it. Permit can be pretty resilient to temp drops as they still forage for crabs and shrimp on the flats. The larger more transient bonefish will be around as well, especially on warming trends or warmer days. Tarpon will not be on the flats typically during December when things start to cool. There are still some baby tarpon in the backcountry corners and hid-e-holes but the water temps in the lower 70s will push them out as well. 

I do enjoy flats fishing for the laid up redfish on the flats this time of the year. I use my technical flats fishing boat to get in the skinny water and get my anglers a shot at them. Jack crevalle are like bullies in the cooler temps tailing up behind sting rays and randomly showing up. They offer a very strong fight on light tackle and take little notice to cooler temps. Barracudas are cold sensitive but once they acclimate they are a really fun target. All of these species are really fun on light tackle spin fishing gear or the fly rod. 

This time of the year I prefer to use my bay boat for the flats fishing unless specifically pursuing red fish in the skinny waters where I will use my skiff for one angler. 

Pro Tip – December can be a bit windy and cooler. Dress for it. But do not forget to wear sunscreen. Just because it is December does not mean you will not get burned. 

Backcountry Fishing

Gary and Susan posing with a backcountry trophy barracuda. December is a great time to target barracudas.

December is a great month for backcountry fishing here in Key West.. There is So much to do. The folks that fish with us regularly love the winter months for the mix of species that might be available. There is so much bait here in the shallows every species with a tooth will be here. We have huge schools of mullet pulling mud from the bottom. Pichards swarming the islands and ballyhoo on the surface seemingly everywhere. Species such as spanish mackerel, cero mackerel, three species of jacks, barracudas, sharks, bluefish, blue runners, pompano, speckled sea trout, redfish and cobia.  With the changes in the weather during December putting telling anyone what they can expect as a whole is impossible. Frankly it’s all good. 

Definitely our most popular fishing charter in December. Mostly because of the ease of booking and not rolling the dice on deep sea fishing if the anglers are weary of high seas. The catch ratio is also very good. For those that enjoy casting and catching with a good change of bagging lunch for later this is a great trip. I generally use lots of artificial As also the water is just beautiful out there. 

I use 24 ft bay boats for fishing in the backcountry. These are very effective with large casting decks and smooth ride. 

December Offshore Fishing

The really nice thing about our cooler months fishing offshore here in Key West is the fact we do not have to run far to get into the fish. December is one of those months. 

Deep Sea Fishing In December

Sailfish are very popular in December. We do not have to go to far to fish for them in December as they are mostly just past the reef. This one was caught on board my 47 Viking "INXS".

Deep sea fishing in December is like a box of chocolates.. You just never know what you are going to get. (Forest Gump).. From one day to the next the winds can switch and create a whole new arena to fish in with a load of new possibilities. Nothing is off the table in December, in fact, it can be one of our best deep sea fishing months here in Key West. 

Let’s start shallow on the reef. Trolling the reef is a great way to come up with a nice grouper or mutton snapper using the deep troll. I like to pull a well rigged ballyhoo nice and slow as deep as I can get it without hitting the bottom. Another technique is a big lipped lure that dives deep. It is the last month of grouper season so we make the best of it. Mid level and surface baits on the reef line are subject to getting whacked by a mackerel. Cero or King mackerel are running all up and down the reef looking for an easy meal. 

Working deeper I troll well rigged ballyhoo for the shots at sailfish and a winter mahi. In December there is always a chance at a wahoo or blackfin tuna. Live baiting using a kite just off the reef is also very productive if the conditions are right. Like I said, December is a great month for fishing deep sea fishing here in Key West. 

Deep Sea Fishing Key West is a big part of my job.
I like to think I have the right tools for it. I use a 47Ft Viking called the “INXS” to cary me and my clients to the fish. I keep this boat at Oceans Edge Marina on Stock Island here in Key West. We are just 5 miles from the fishing in December and she gets there quick. Almost as nice as your house with air conditioned salon and new everything. Our anglers feel right at home. We celebrate the end of the day and a great catch with a complimentary taste of Papas Pilar Rum that was distilled right here in Key West. Check out my web site for this boat and her fishing. 

Call 1-305-292-7212

INXS Deep Sea Fishing Boat
The "INXS" 47Ft Viking deep sea fishing boat Key West

Reef Fishing In December

Yellowtail Snapper
December has amazing reef fishing possibilities. Everything is in line to a great bite.

The cooler temps of December bring in and hold the bait fish on the reef. This makes a constant smorgasbord of food for predators looking to stock up for Christmas. Grouper, snapper, mackerels up on the reef and blackfin tunas, kingfish, sailfish and mahi just on the other side. Makes for a great day of Key West reef fishing. Remember December is the last month of the Atlantic grouper season. Conditions can make or break a day on the reef. Winds, currents and water clarity all play a roll to success or failure. Captains need to be seasoned to know how to roll with the different conditions and be productive for their clients on the reef. Being flexible and prepared for everything is key to success. 

Me personally I use a 36ft Yellowfin center console for my reef fishing. Fast smooth and very capable of carrying what I need to make the day great. I use lots of artificial lures to put meat in the box. I am alway prepared with other bait options as well depending on the targeted species and desires of my anglers. Because the fish are in close due to cooler temps December is a great month for half day trips to the reef. 

Fishing Charters

Booking a Key West fishing charter in December is easy. Before Christmas week We are pretty tame in our schedules so playing the weather isn’t a terrible idea, especially if you are booking a deep sea fishing charter or a reef fishing charter. Christmas week is busy, if you are looking to go that week, book ahead. Backcountry fishing charters are the most popular ways to go fishing in Key West in December. Your best bet is to just give us a call and let us help you custom tailor a trip specifically for you and your group. 

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