Got out with Tim and his daughter Bridgette today for a full day of december backcountry fishing in islamorada. We had pilchards stashed away from yesterday plus some nice jumbo live shrimp that were delivered in the AM. We headed out and tried some of the areas where I’d had luck for snooks, reds, and snappers a few days ago. Tides were a little different today, same direction but the level was much higher. We didn’t do much the first stop where I had done well the other day, and then struck out in another spot after that. I was a little worried and was about to bail, but then I hit one more area that looked promising. We got zinged by a large mangrove snapper right away on our pilchard, so I anchored the boat and we got to fishin’. Soon we were catching several nice size snappers, and a few snook showed up too. We had very good fishing for a little window, then it slowed down. I continued working the edge, pitching baits near the mangroves, and we stayed in the fish for a couple hours. We easily got our limit of mangrove snappers, up to 17 inches nice big ones. I think we also caught about 8 snook and lost another half dozen I’d say. Phenomenal fishing! After we ran out of the live pilchards we headed out to the gulf in search of spanish mackerel. It was hot and calm, but I found an area where the water looked good. We anchored up on some potholes, and started to chum with our frozen chum block and a little bit of shrimp. Soon we had fish behind the boat, we casted jigs tipped with shrimp and caught blue runners, spanish mackerel, lane snappers, and big ladyfish. All you could want for the next hour! Many of the mackerel are nicer size right now too, still being the early arrivals. We finished there a little later, and kept some ladyfish and mackerels for bait for some larger quarry. We tried some areas for sharks and possibly tarpon since it was warm enough, but didn’t see much for tarpon. We never really had a shark bite either, I was surprised as the water was in the high 70s, plenty warm for them. But oh well that’s how it goes, and we still had a banner day regardless. On the way home we saw a bald eagle which was cool and had some manatees waiting for us at the dock!