The bulk of my effort in July will be focused on the near-shore waters of the Atlantic and Sebastian Inlet. Since mid-May I have been spending every opportunity Mother Nature will allow, outside the inlet. There are kingfish, cobia, bonito and jack crevalle within a couple miles of the beach. They can provide fast paced run and gun options when they are breaking on bait pods, or more often slow trolling live bait will allow a relaxing way to wind up connected to a large specimen of one of the above mentioned species. Slow trolling live mullet and pogies has yielded kings pushing 40-pounds as well as plenty of 25-plus-pound jacks. The Little Tunny (bonito) have been gorging themselves with glass minnows and fish fry every morning and will occasionally hit a small diving plug ripped through the feeding frenzy. Dolphin and cobia have also moved into small boat range of Sebastian Inlet and can be slow-trolled up or cast to when sighted around floating weeds or basking turtles. Sebastian Inlet is a great place to find action from redfish and snook in July. Finding bait to fish with during the day is an obstacle that I have encountered lately, but if you have the time to search for pigfish, croakers or pinfish, it can pay off in some photos of oversized reds and snook.
Night fishing should make things easier, as inlet predators lose their aversion to artificial lures after dark. The Indian River Lagoon is showing some signs of trying to re-establish some grass beds. There are some gator trout, reds and snook along the shorelines of the lagoon, especially around docks and oyster bars. Trout can be found scattered around in troths on the flats and around deeper water structure. One thing I have some success with in the summer when I can’t get in the ocean, is drifting open water casting jigs and plugs for anything that bites, like ladyfish, jacks, blues, and more. When we catch a ladyfish, I put it out on a steel leader and let it drag behind the boat for shark. It is scary sometimes, how quickly the sharks find the struggling ladyfish. Most are
bull sharks in the 50- to 100-pound range that we release without attempting to bring in the boat.
The Sebastian River has continued to provide a tarpon fishing option for my clients. I am able to hook up two to ten juvenile tarpon most mornings on D.O.A. Terror-Eyz. There seems to be several year classes of tarpon missing from the population as a result of the freezes of 2010, and most of the fish I’m catching are less than 10-pounds. The 10- to 40-pound fish are the ones that I like to target in the river in the summer, but the last couple years they have been hard to come by, and when they do show up, it is only for a week instead of the entire summer season.