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On the Water: Fishing during the dog days of August

By Staff | Aug 10, 2016

While vacationing in Florida, Lauren Fleck and her family came to Pine Island for a morning of fishing. She caught and released this big 32-inch redfish while fishing north Matlacha Pass with Capt. Bill Russell. PHOTO PROVIDED

August in Southwest Florida means hot sticky days, plenty of rain and often thunderstorms. If you don’t mind working around the weather, the fishing is often pretty good and competition is scarce.

Catching redfish should become more consistent as the month progresses. Odds are better on days with extreme high tides; this is the time to fish the baits deep under the shade of the mangroves. Floating a silver-dollar size live pinfish or pilchard under a cork or soaking dead bait, including cut ladyfish, pinfish and mullet, are all excellent redfish baits. These redfish are tight under the mangroves on the higher stages of the tide – it’s important to keep the bait as tight to the mangroves as possible. Cut bait often makes a better choice than live under the bushes, as redfish are scent feeders and fresh cut bait oozes plenty of stinky aromas. By the end of the month, schools of large reds should begin bunching up on the flats for their fall run.

The mangrove snapper bite should continue strong throughout the inshore and near-shore waters. Look for them schooled up around structure with good water movement; this could include any of the Gulf passes, docks and jetties, bridges, piers and natural or man-made reefs. For bait, live shrimp, pilchards and small pinfish, plus small cut bait with a small circle hook and 10 to 25-pound fluorocarbon leader is a good choice. Snapper are not only hard-fighting for their size, but also one of the absolute best tasting fish in our waters. If you have visitors over the summer, snapper can make a great target and reward you with a fine dinner. Also, expect to catch them while targeting redfish.

There’s opportunity to hook into some big summer trout along with lots of undersized fish. Look for the larger trout wide spread over areas of open water where sand bars separate deeper water from 3 to 6-foot deep grass flats. Schools of bait fish are concentrated in these areas and trout, along with Spanish mackerel, bluefish, ladyfish and small sharks are working the bait schools. Grass/sand or mottled bottom inside or near the Gulf passes should also hold trout and other species during the summer rainy months. Also, don’t be surprised if a tarpon joins the party – they will become widespread throughout our waters and will inhale small bait just as quickly as a large one. Sharks are also a possibility, from small to large; they will be attracted to any fish feeding activity.

Offshore, most anglers are targeting grouper and snapper, often making a long run of 30 miles or better for the larger fish. Closer to shore, within 10 miles of land, keeper-size gags will be holding over limestone and rock ledges. Trolling deep- diving lures or fishing live bait are favorite methods. The best bet is to be on the water before sunrise and get back near shore early in the day ahead of afternoon storms.

Use the weather and tides to your advantage and fishing can be good during the hot month of August. Our inshore water temperature can change quickly, giving us three or four days with bright sunny skies and the inshore waters quickly get hot and the bite can slow. A couple rainy days with limited sunshine and the water will drop several degrees; this can trigger very good fishing.

If you have a fishing report or for charter information, please contact us at 239-283-7960, on the Web at www.fishpine-island.com or email: gcl2fish@live.com

Have a safe week and good fishin’.