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On the Water: June fishing in the summer-like heat

By Staff | Jun 18, 2019

PHOTO PROVIDED Wayne Bouffard, Bill McCrum and Mark Griffin with their limit of American red snapper on opening day for charter boats, plus one nice scamp grouper. They were fishing with Capt. Bill Schwalm aboard the 'Better Days' out of St. James City.

As we progress into the heat of summer, fishing both inshore and offshore can still be very good, just prepare for hot days and keep an eye on the weather. Many anglers prefer to get an early start and off the water ahead of the mid-day heat and afternoon storms.

Inshore, the mangrove snapper bite will continue to heat up as fish to 15 inches are common with some larger throughout the inshore waters and estuaries. A variety of baits including shrimp, pilchards, herring, small pinfish and cut bait will entice fish around docks, piers, bridges, under deeper mangrove shorelines, oyster bars, sand potholes and rock ledges in and near the passes. There is an unusual number of Spanish sardines inshore this year; they make a great bait, live or cut. Mangrove snapper are one of our tastier fish and fight very hard for their size and make a great summer target. They are often leader and hook shy — if the water is clear, it’s often necessary to lighten the tackle. Inshore, I generally go with 2 feet or more of 12 to 20-pound fluorocarbon leader and a 1/0 circle hook.

Tarpon are around in good numbers and will continue through the end of the month. The last hill tides in Boca Grande Pass flushed out small crabs by the thousands and tarpon were there in force feasting on them. This may well play out again with the next round of afternoon falling tides. Tarpon will also be targeted off the beaches and inshore.

Calm summer mornings will give good opportunities to run offshore and target grouper and other species. American red snapper season is open for recreational anglers from June 11 to July 12 for those willing to make the long run offshore. Gag grouper season is open, along with red grouper, expect the larger fish to be in deeper water. Seventy feet is generally a good starting point, but you may need to run well past a hundred feet for larger fish. If you run out a little deeper, you may find red snapper and grouper around the same depths. To get updated grouper, snapper and fishing regulations go to “http://www.myfwc.com”>www.myfwc.com.

Closer to land, wrecks and reefs can be productive with everything from snapper to barracuda. Anchoring up current of structure with a fresh chum bag is preferred. A variety of baits is a good idea as well as an arsenal of rods rigged and ready for light to heavy action for whatever might come around.

Capt. Bill Russell

For fast action offshore, look for bonito and Spanish mackerel harassing bait schools in depths from 30 to 80 feet. Trolling silver spoons or Tuna Jets in various colors can bring instant hook-ups when trolled around feeding activity. Watch for birds and surface commotion to locate the fish. Also look around the artificial reefs.

Sharks are another summertime favorite. Varieties of species both large and small are common catches both inshore and off. While they are a nuisance for some, many anglers target them for their fighting ability. Sharks play an important role in our ecosystem; please make every effort to quickly release them unharmed. Every kid loves to catch a shark of any size, now is a good time, just make sure and do it safely for both the angler and the shark.

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

Have a safe week and good fishin’.

As a native of Pine Island, Capt. 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.