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On the Water: It’s June — here comes summer!

By Staff | Jun 7, 2017

While vacationing at the Tarpon Lodge last week, Tom Fritz was able to salvage a morning of fishing as the strong winds and rain were moving in. Tom caught and released this 32-inch redfish while fishing with Capt. Bill Russell near Bokeelia PHOTO PROVIDED

June is the month summer settles in, bringing hot, humid days and afternoon thunderstorms. It’s a good month to fish or for boating in general, just make sure you plan accordingly to ensure an enjoyable day.

June is a top month for hooking a tarpon. They are often most active in the mornings when the sun hits the horizon. A calm summer morning is a great time to get up early and watch the sun rise while chasing active tarpon schools off the beaches. They might feed off and on throughout the day, in late afternoon into the evening is a great time. Many anglers prefer to target tarpon after the sun sets. One thing for sure, you never know when they will be feeding, but I guarantee you will not hook one if you’re not fishing.

Keep an eye open for big sharks, bulls inshore and bulls and hammerheads offshore, and the passes. They are following the tarpon schools, then target a tired hooked fish for an easy meal. If you hook into a tarpon, make the fight as short as possible – a heavy drag while applying lots of pressure will get the big fish boat side for a faster release, and hopefully prevent it from becoming shark bait.

Snook season remains closed through the summer months with good catch-and-release action throughout Pine Island Sound and around the gulf beaches and inlets. Look for the best action over the days with the stronger tide flow. Sea trout will be found while drifting over grass flats in 3 to 6-foot depths; casting artificials or live baits under a bobber work equally well. Mackerel, bluefish, ladyfish, jacks and small sharks are also feeding over the same grass flats.

Summer high tides are a good time to target redfish under the shade of the mangrove islands. Often the best bite occurs over the last couple hours of the incoming tide and the early stages of the outgoing. Baits vary from spoons and scented jerk baits to live and dead natural baits. You can either work a shoreline casting artificials or throw some fresh chunks of bait under the mangroves and let the fish pick up the scent and find the bait.

If you’re looking to bring home dinner, snapper may be your best bet. Decent size mangrove snapper are moving inshore as well as the gulf passes. Larger mangrove, plus lane snapper are also plentiful in gulf waters within sight of land over hard bottom and reefs. Shrimp, squid and small pinfish or pilchards are candy to snappers, but you need to remember they have keen eyesight and easily become leader shy. If the water clarity is good, dropping down to 10 or 12-pound fluorocarbon leader may be necessary to fool the larger fish. A fresh block of chum also helps with the bite, especially offshore.

Also offshore, gag grouper reopens this month. If you are snapper fishing nearshore it may be worth the time to drop live bait down on a larger rig and stick it in the rod holder in hopes of hooking a gag. The minimum size is now 24 inches overall length. The further you fish offshore, the better the odds of catching larger grouper.

As the days heat up it’s imperative to keep hydrated. And no, beer is not a good choice. An alcoholic beverage has a negative effect, you will actually become dehydrated quicker. It’s hard to beat good old water, bring more than you think you might need and drink often. When you’re fighting a big fish (tarpon) for an extended time, it’s easy to get caught in the moment and before you realize it you’re feeling the effects of dehydration. It’s best to save the beer for the after-the-catch celebration. Kids especially need to drink fluids often, they have less body mass than adults and expel a lot of energy. Make sure and keep them hydrated while on the water.

To make sure your day on the water is enjoyable from start to finish, keep an eye on the sky and watch for those afternoon thunderstorms. It’s never any fun to get caught on the water in a storm, especially with women and children on board. It can quickly ruin a great day, plus some of these storms produce extremely strong winds and dangerous lightning. By using a little common sense and watching the sky, you can be back at the dock ahead of any storms and keep a smile on everyone’s face.

If you have a fishing report or for charter information, please contact us at Gulf Coast Guide Service at 239-283-7960, on the Web at www.fishpineisland.com or email gcl2fish@live.com

Have a safe week and good fishin’.

As a native of Pine Island, Bill Russell has spent his entire life fishing and learning the waters surrounding Pine Island and as a professional fishing guide for the past 18 years.