Winter is here and with it comes some big changes to the fishery in the Everglades National Park. Some good and some will prove a bit challenging.

We typically have our first big cold front hit us after the middle of the month. We have already had a few minor cold fronts come through during the month of November, but nothing real extreme like we did last November. Expect Gulf water temperatures to drop down into the mid 60s later in the month.

In December it is very important to keep a watchful eye on the tide charts. We have some more pretty low tides predicted both around the Full and New moon phases. On the mornings of the 9th 14th, and 20th-27th you will wonder who pulled the plug! Every December I see aggravated anglers pacing impatiently at the launch ramp while they wait for enough tide to come in just so they can get their boats off the trailer. If they had only looked at the tide chart, they could have slept a few hours later. I use

The flats have become alive with action and if you can get out on a beautiful sunny day without much wind, you will be rewarded with sore arms! All sorts of action fish will enthusiastically take what you bring to offer. I like to start out fishing the 3-5 grass flats on an incoming tide with a bucktail type jig. I like jigs with a lot of flash in the tail like Dons Potbelly PBGF 2038. Grab a handful because the fish go crazy over them, and will most likely tear them into pieces on you. I like to throw them using 10lb line, with 2 of 20lb fluorocarbon leader. Trout (catch and release until 1/1), Mackerel, Bluefish, Ladyfish, Pompano, Jacks, and just about everything in between will hit them.

The backwaters have come alive with action too. You can get into some good Snook back in the creeks and back bays. They will most likely be hiding in the deeper mangrove root pockets waiting for their next meal to swim by on the outgoing tide. Try a Gulp Shrimp, live shrimp, or better yet some live Pilchards!

Redfish, Sheepshead, and Mangrove Snapper will become a regular catch on the hard oyster bottoms and deep mangrove root pockets in the Gulf side mouths of the many rivers in the 10,000 Islands. Best best baits for these fish are live shrimp.

I have developed a Species Availability Chart relative to the Backwater and Nearshore areas that I fish in the Everglades National Park. If you fish offshore or different areas than we do, your catch/availability will vary from what is listed, so use it just as a "general guideline" only. You can see it at Captain Rapps Fishing Charters Hover your mouse over the top "About" icon and click on the "Species Availability Chart" option in the drop down.

Captain Pete Rapps

Hailing out of Chokoloskee Island Park Marina, Chokoloskee, FL.

Capt Rapps has been fishing just south of Marco Island in the Chokoloskee/Everglades City area for over 20 years. He offers expert guided, light tackle, near shore, and backwater fishing trips in the Everglades National Park, and is happy to accommodate anyone from men, women, & children of all ages, experienced or not, and those with special needs. Pete and his professional guides are extremely patient and love to teach. You can book a charter right online 24/7. See his online availability calendar, booking info, videos, recipes, seasonings, and first class web site at

Captain Pete Rapps
Chokoloskee, Everglades City, and the 10000 Islands of the Everglades National Park