On the Water: Fishing during the dog days of summer
As we roll into the month of August, you can truly feel the dog days of summer in Southwest Florida. You can count on just about every day being hot and sticky. This is a quiet month for anglers but there are good fishing possibilities on the water.
Two of the best fish to target are redfish and mangrove snapper, neither seem to mind the heat too much, in fact fishing for both should improve as the month progresses. Look for snapper around structure including bridges, piers, docks, rock ledges and under the mangrove shorelines. Areas with a good tide flow will hold larger fish, all of the Gulf passes are also great snapper grounds.
The best time to hunt for redfish is early in the morning on the shallow flats while the water is the coolest, then under the shade of the mangroves on the higher tides. Cut bait often out-fishes live bait for reds this month. Towards the end of the month the larger fish will begin to bunch up in their fall schools. It’s common to locate several hundred in a pack pushing down a bar edge on the rising tide. Schools will also show up inside the Gulf passes on the falling tide.
As in the past months there are plenty of fish to give steady action over the deeper grass flats. The incoming tide is usually the best time to catch a variety, including trout, mackerel, ladyfish, bluefish and small sharks in depths averaging 5-10 feet. It’s also a month where tarpon can show up anywhere; don’t be surprised if a huge tarpon slams a small trout bait. Also look for tarpon harassing ladyfish schools throughout Charlotte Harbor and off the gulf beaches.
If you are looking for something with a little more fight, bull sharks will be roaming inshore from the flats to the deeper channels. Look for mullet schools along shorelines on the flats and chances are good there will be more than one bull shark around the perimeter of the school. Mullet are getting large and fat as summer progresses. They are easy to spot jumping and pushing water. Some of the best areas to fish for the bulls are the finger channels that lead to the shallower flats on days with good moving water. If you are dead bait fishing on bottom, expect to catch some big stingrays and again don’t be surprised if you hook up with a tarpon.
The best snook fishing will continue on the beaches and in or near the Passes. Please try to handle all snook with care while unhooking and releasing. If bottle nose dolphins show up to snack on the exhausted fish when released, either put the rods down for a bit until they leave the area or move on and fish another area, but please don’t feed them.
Offshore, anglers should find good sized mangrove snapper over ledges and structure from nearshore on out as far as you want to travel. Lane and yellowtail snapper are also a good possibility. Large gag grouper have been reported by divers and anglers beginning in depths of 60 feet around structure and ledges. Target red grouper over hard or live bottom beginning at the same depth and deeper. If fishing structure with a decent relief off the bottom, it’s a good idea to bring some small live crabs if you want to target permit or run into a picky cobia.
The best advice for August fishing, go early to beat the heat, take plenty of water to stay hydrated and when it gets hot, stop off at one of the beaches and cool off with a swim. Or better yet, combine fishing and swimming together, try wade fishing to stay cool.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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.