On the Water: Month of July brings some ‘hot’ fishing
As we head into the month of July, we should have more good weather days to target fish both inshore and offshore including gag grouper that are back in season. Obviously it is going to be hot – if you can, fish early or late, or fish on an overcast day. Of course, if you are heading offshore, you are more than likely spending the better part of the day. It really helps if the boat provides some shade and bring lots of drinking water.
Fish for redfish under the mangrove shorelines on the higher stages of the tide – most are singles or pairs averaging 20 to 27 inches. Live silver dollar-sized pinfish or pilchards tail hooked on a circle hook and floated under a popping cork make great baits. One-inch-thick ladyfish or mullet steaks are also a good choice, as are cut pinfish. If you don’t get any takers in five minutes, make a move. Many times just a short move can make all the difference. You can also expect to catch a few snook and mangrove snapper under the mangroves while looking for redfish.
Stalking redfish in the shallows will be best near first and last light. Look for days with a low incoming tide during this time to better your chances.
Reports of mangrove snapper get better each week, with fish to 16 inches caught throughout the inshore waters. While that’s nothing to brag about for offshore, these are some really nice snapper for shallow water inshore fishing. Baits of choice include live and frozen shrimp, small pilchards, herring and pinfish, live or cut.
Look for trout and Spanish mackerel in Charlotte Harbor near Bokeelia, and Pine Island Sound from Cayo Costa south to the Sanibel Causeway. Locate the clearest water possible for the best action; at times that’s easier said than done. Over recent weeks there has become an abundance of schools of small baitfish, including pilchards, herring and pinfish. Look for the rain on the water, birds working an area and surface commotion from feeding fish. On the bright sunny days, the morning incoming tides often give the best bite.
Tarpon are still around the Harbor, off the beaches and in the Passes. Most of the out-of-town guides and anglers have gone back home, this should put a lot less pressure on the tarpon remaining in our waters. Get out at first light on calm mornings and look for fish rolling, tail slapping or free jumping. Most anglers attempt to get well ahead of the moving fish without spooking them and place live bait that may include a small crab, thread herring or pinfish in their path. Dead bait fishing is a good choice and way more relaxing. This can be done any time of day and is a great choice after the breeze kicks in and sight fishing becomes difficult. Fresh baits, including ladyfish, mullet and shad, worked great. With the tarpon you should also expect to hook into sharks on the cut bait.
Also, fly fisherman with some skill will score with tarpon hook-ups; the best time is generally at first light.
Sharks are plentiful anywhere you choose to fish and are often a good option on the hot days. Hammerheads and blacktips are often hooked off the beaches by anglers chasing tarpon. Inshore, lemon sharks to 7 feet were caught and released from areas near the power lines on the Sanibel side in the southern sound and Punta Blanca Island in the upper sound.
Lemons, blacktip and bulls can be caught throughout our inshore waters. Look for them along feeder channels that run from the deeper water to the flats in the sound, and cruising the outside or deep water side of the many sand bars that border San Carlos Bay, Pine Island Sound and Charlotte Harbor.
Finally, gag grouper are back in season again. There have been lots of reports the last few months of plenty of big gags caught and released, now a few can come home for dinner. While most of the action will take place a good distance offshore, there is a good chance to bag a few around the passes or under the Sanibel Causeway.
It seems that fisheries management is constantly tinkering with season, limits, etc. Visit www.myfwc.com to get the current grouper or fish regulations before hitting the water.
If you have a fishing report or for charter information, contact us at 238-283-7960, on the Web at www.fishpineisland.com or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Have a safe and fun July 4th holiday.