Where to Find the Fish in December and January

First choice: Brazil Second choice: Barbados If you’re after a trophy, there’s no better place than Vitoria, Brazil, where the first drop, less than an hour’s run, produces some of the world’s largest white marlin, averaging 90 pounds and some hovering around 150. While some are caught by boats trolling for wahoo, chumming and chunking frequently produce more tuna. First choice: Florida Second choice: Louisiana Whether it’s live-baiting the various Islamorada and Marathon humps on the Atlantic side, or chumming and chunking near shrimp boats out in the Gulf, the Florida Keys now offers superb action with blackfins. First choice: Bahamas Second choice: Cayman Islands As winter weather sets in, the warmer climates of the Bahamas and Cayman Islands keep more bones accessible to anglers. First choice: Florida Second choice: Costa Rica When the mercury drops, Florida’s linesiders seek milder water temps in deep residential canals, coastal rivers, and bridges over the deeper points of the Intracoastal Waterway. First choice: Costa Rica Second choice: Florida In Costa Rica, silver kings stage around the mouths of Rio San Juan, Rio Colorado, and other rivers on the Caribbean coast. First choice: Louisiana Second choice: Florida The running of the bulls continues in southeast Louisiana, where reds often weighing over 30 pounds still feast on schooling baitfish at the mouths of major bays and along outer island shorelines. In Mexico’s Baja waters, a steady increase in swordfish numbers in the Sea of Cortez coincides with the January full moon, and boats start to find some finning on the surface. First choice: Florida Second choice: North Carolina Florida’s Gulf coast, from Key West to the Panhandle, teems with kings this time of year. First choice: Louisiana Second choice: Florida Oil and gas platforms along Louisiana’s coast provide both the forage and the cover speckled trout need in winter.

With Salt Water Sportsman’s help, you can figure out where your favorite fish is during December and January, the peak of winter. Pick your top species and head to the best bets to find them.

Pacific blue marlin

First choice: Panama
Second choice: New Zealand

With monsoon season finally over, boats again troll live bonito and small tuna to rack up releases along the drop in the continental shelf that separates the Gulf of Panama from the open Pacific Ocean. Warm summer currents bring excellent numbers of blues near New Zealand shores. Look for fish to show off Tairua and Whitianga first.

Atlantic blue marlin

First choice: Brazil
Second choice: Jamaica

Upwellings serve up tuna and dolphin for hungry blues at Royal Charlotte Bank off Canavieiras, Brazil, where six or more daily shots are common this time of year. In Jamaica, 250- to 500-pound blues still hunt along the Cayman Trench, which comes within a half-mile off Montego Bay, where depths quickly drop from 400 to 3,000 feet.

black marlin

First choice: Panama
Second choice: Australia

Lots of blacks 300 pounds and up prowl underwater pinnacles as shallow as 600 feet between Panama’s Isla Jicarón and Jaqué. In Australia, granders leave the Great Barrier Reef, but juveniles invade Gold Coast, where 75- to 150-pounders come surprisingly shallow to feast on mackerel schooling over the patch reefs.

White marlin

First choice: Brazil
Second choice: Barbados

If you’re after a trophy, there’s no better place than Vitoria, Brazil, where the first drop, less than an hour’s run, produces some of the world’s largest white marlin, averaging 90 pounds and some hovering around 150. In Barbados, white marlin action is on the upswing as more boats targeting big game raise two or three fish a day.

Atlantic sailfish

First choice: Florida
Second choice: Mexico

Expect good to excellent sailfishing from Fort Pierce to Key West, Florida, as hordes of hungry spindlebeaks are both active and in a feeding mood. Migrating sails begin to stage in the Yucatan Channel off Isla Mujeres. The arrival of the billfish coincides with baitfish beginning to school heavily in the area, and the bite improves steadily as spring approaches.

Pacific sailfish

First choice: Guatemala
Second choice: Costa Rica

Boats out of Iztapa, Guatemala, amass extraordinary numbers of releases this time of year, and the sailfish bite off Guatemala often begins closer to shore now than later in the season. In Costa Rican waters, boats out of Golfito and Quepos enjoy the earliest influx of sailfish, but by mid-January the fishing also heats up off Los Sueños and Puerto Carrillo.

striped marlin

First choice: Mexico
Second choice: Ecuador

Stripes remain the protagonists in most offshore battles for boats fishing along the coast of Mexico’s Baja California Sur as the marlin follow the annual baitfish migration. In Ecuador, plenty of striped marlin still hang around the Galapagos Islands, but prolonged periods of choppy seas often make the fishing more challenging.

Wahoo

First choice: Bermuda
Second choice: Bahamas

The fast action around Challenger and Argus banks and the southwest end of the island lets Bermuda overtake the Bahamas as the top wahoo destination this time of year. Nevertheless, San Salvador and neighboring Cat Island,…

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Where to Find the Fish in December and January

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