Christmas in New England is celebrated with wreaths, Yule logs, and smelt. Rick Newcomb at Fore River Bait and Tackle in Boston reported excellent smelt fishing at Marina Bay off the old fuel dock, Summer Street Bridge in South Boston, Castle Island, and the Pound and Pemberton piers. Rick says the fish are easy to catch with a No. 8 Sabiki Rig tipped with frozen shrimp. Anglers have reported catching as many as 180 smelt in an outing. "Fried smelt is a New England tradition," Rick said. Another New England tradition is the bottomfishing off Stellwagen Banks in Massachusetts. Kayman Charters Captain Kevin Twombly (kaymancharters.com) put his anglers, Matt White, Bob Bauer and Mark Reedenauer, product marketing manager for AIRMAR Technology, onto fish big time this past week with a full load of pollock, haddock and cod. The sore-armed anglers sufficiently stocked the larder for winter.
For most folks around the country, this is the time of year for mistletoe, hot chocolate and heavy sweaters. But for folks in Miami Florida, this is the time of year for sailfish. According Joe Corbett at Kendall Bait and Tackle (kendallbaitandtackle.com) crews trolling live goggle eyes or pilchards are scoring double-digit catches of sails. Corbett said that the fish are hanging along temperature breaks in 100 to 200 feet of water. Crews jigging rigged ballyhoo in the same area are connecting with smoker king mackerel. On the shallow-patch reefs, anglers are catching enough grouper, mutton, and porgy to feed the family over the holidays. "Use a knocker rig with a hook and sinker and a piece of shrimp," he says. Cero mackerel are moving in and out of Biscayne Bay and Hawks Channel. "All it takes is a live shrimp on a long-shank hook under a popping cork," he said. Corbett added that the warm weather has kept people fishing for bonefish on the flats and targeting reds and snook in Everglades National Park. On the freshwater scene, Corbett recommends targeting peacock bass in the canals and lakes around Miami. "They're everywhere and they've taken over," he said. To learn how to catch these exotic fish, Corbett suggests checking out flyfishpeacock.com.
The weather has been frightful on the Gulf Coast, but the fishing has been delightful. Mike Barbee at Fishing Tackle Unlimited (fishingtackleunlimited.com) in Houston was anxious for the wind to stop blowing so he could go fishing. "I'm heading to Port O'Connor to fish for reds and trout," he said. Barbee told us that tides have been low so he's been targeting the fish around the shorelines. When the water comes up again, Barbee will head to the back lakes and ponds. Although catching these fish on a Super Spook Jr. or a Bass Assassin is a no brainer, Barbee prefers to target the reds with an 8 weight fly rod and tan and white Clousers in shallow water and chartreuse and white in the deeper cuts." Until the weather clears, Barbee says anglers will have to search for fish feeding under diving gulls.
Anglers heading to Branson, Missouri for the Holidays will find musical reviews, magic shows, and great fishing. Chuck Gries at Anglers and Archery (anglersandarchery.com) told us that Lake Tanneycomo is full of rainbow trout and holding some trophy browns. Anglers are drifting scuds and San Juan worms when the water is high and wooly buggers and soft hackles when the lake is low. "The State releases 750,000 trout into the river each year," Gries says, "so the fishing is really good."
Anglers may head to Las Vegas to try their luck with craps, slots, and blackjack, but betting on big striped bass in Lake Mead is a sure thing. Captain Bob Wood at American Angler Guide Service (americananglerguideservice.net) reports that the Nevada Department of Wildlife has begun stocking rainbow trout in the lake. "It's like ringing the dinner bell for the striper," Wood explains. He says that trophy striper show up at the stocking sites to gorge on the trout. Anglers can score big bass by trolling Old Henry, AC, or Spro BBZ plugs at 1 to 2 miles per hour. "We call it the Nevada striper feeding program," Bob jokes. He said that the trout will run to the shallow edges of the lake to hide from the striped bass. "They're not around structure," he says, "you just have to get out there and troll around until you find them."