Let's hope December brings what we ask for this year. The short list would read; nice consistent water temperatures and plenty of redfish and trout in the bays.
Also, hope for the weather to remain relatively stable. Cold fronts are going to happen, but maybe not as drastic as the past few years. St. Joseph Sound water temps dropped 20 degrees in three days last year.
Use these cold fronts to your advantage. The fish will go on a feeding frenzy the day of or the day before a cold front blows through. The winds will pick up from the south/ south west and increase the tidal movement in the bays and back waters. Check all the oyster bed points, mouths of back bays and openings to canals along the east side of the bay. Trout, redfish, ladyfish, bluefish, jacks and "maybe" snook will use these areas to ambush their food.
If the weather remains stable, look for 24+ inch big gator trout moving into Clearwater Harbor and St Joseph Sound. Start drifting along in two to three feet of water with a grass and sand bottom. A live shrimp from under a float is hard to beat. Don't rule out your favorite lead head plastic tail in the same set up. Trout are still out of season in December.
Redfish will be scattered throughout the bay. Search the mangroves on the west side, the spoil islands in the middle and the oyster beds on the east side. I know, that's the entire bay. But when you find them, it will all be worth it.
December, last year, I fished a day before a front hit this area and ended up with a small 68 inch winter slam for 2 1/2 hrs. of work. Started casting artificials outside of Clwtr. Pass and caught a 27" redfish, a 25" snook, one sheepshead and a blue fish. Water temp on the beach was 61.5 degrees. Back inside the bay, I went back into the mangroves and found nice size trout and some more blue fish. Water temp inside was 60.2.
Merry Christmas and happy winter fishing.
Capt. Gary Burch