In South Carolina, we can enjoy good fishing even in December, because a lot of time, the weather is really pleasant. Some days can be in the 60s and 70s, and by December, I've normally gotten deer hunting out of my system, so I enjoy getting out and catching crappie or striper for a fish fry, or catching largemouth bass for fun.
The nice thing is, a lot of guys have put up their rods and reels already, and they won't take 'em back out until February or March. There's a lot less traffic on the water, especially recreational boaters, and you can have a really good time - it's a really good time to be on the water.
One thing I love to do in December - I know, I love to do it all the time - is try to catch a big bass on a jig. December is a great time, because bass will really, really feed on crawfish during the colder months. The crawfish, they bury up in the mud during the summer, and they come back out in the fall and winter, and those bass will really target the crawfish.
You know, there's something in nature that tells fish and animals what foods that are available are high in protein and that they should be eating, whether you're talking about a bass, a deer or a duck. And to a bass, crawfish is a great source of protein. You can bet, when the water cools off in the fall, bass are really going to be keying in on crawfish, and when that happens, a jig is a great bait.
I've caught several bass in my life that I figured weighed around 11 pounds or better, and three of them I had weighed on certified scales. I caught an 11-0 on Falcon Lake in Texas and an 11-2 on Clear Lake in California, and I weighed both of them in a BASS tournament. My biggest bass ever was an 11-7 bass that I caught one day filming a video; she bit a jig, and it was in December.
December is a great big-fish month in many of our South Carolina lakes because the crawfish are out and because a Mop Jig or any other jig is a great big-fish bait. You may not go out and catch 20 fish a day in December, but you can catch a big fish. I like to be able to just go along and fish methodically, casting a jig and working it back.
My favorite jig is a half-ounce, brown Mop Jig with a brown plastic chunk. I fish it on a 7-foot-2 All-Star jig rod, medium heavy, paired with a Pfleuger Patriarch baitcasting reel spooled with 17-pound Trilene 100 Percent Fluorocarbon.
About the only thing you can't predict is the weather. Before this past winter, our last two winters were the coldest I can remember, but last winter was very mild. The water temperature can be in the 60s, or it can be in the 40s, but you can catch bass on a jig either way. The difference is how you have to fish for them.
If you'll fish a jig around the best available cover, you'll have a chance. If the water temperature is in the 60s, I catch a lot of fish in five feet of water or less. If it's in the 40s, I'm going to be fishing out, fishing around brush piles and drops and stumps, catching fish from 10 to 20 feet deep.
So I love to be on the water in December. If I get a nice day, I'm going to buy some minnows or drop a 1/32-ounce jig down around some cover and catch crappie for a fish fry, or I'm going follow the seagulls and catch stripers and filet them out. But I'm not going to forget that December is a great month to catch a big bass on a jig.