by Captain Terry Fisher
August is a great month to expect the unexpected when it comes to catching a ‘fish of a lifetime’! The only obstacles to consider will likely be heat and afternoon storms. Reef and pelagic species are abundant in the gulf and inshore species are returning in good numbers. July catches included an abundance of grouper, porgy, red and lane snappers in 85’ – 130’ depths. A variety of other reef species included gray (mangrove) and vermillion snapper, common on reefs closer inland. Pelagic fish such as king, Spanish mackerel, permit and cobia made up the balance somewhere between close and far offshore, especially around the reefs and structures holding baitfish. Inshore catches of seatrout, snook and redfish improved slightly and I am hopeful this trend will continue into August and months to come.
Snook season is closed on the Gulf Coast but there are no laws that prevent anglers from targeting and catching them. August is a great month to look for big snook swimming along the beaches, holding around structure in and along Redfish, Captiva and Boca Grande Passes. Live, dead, and artificial presentations all work. I prefer to free-line live baits on small 1/0 to 3/0 hooks. Use sufficient tackle (medium heavy) rods 3500-4000 series reels to prevent prolonging a fight in this hot summer month producing 90 plus degree water temperatures, which may injure or kill the fish.
Redfish harvesting is also closed and the same will hold true for them. I use the same size reels, rod, line and leaders for these as I do for snook. Compared to June, the red-fishing improved in July in the back areas of Pine Island Sound, Matlacha Pass, as well as Bull and Turtle Bays on the northwest utmost end of Charlotte Harbor. August is the month that the ‘Bull’ redfish begin to come into the shallows, offering anglers great fun. The good news is that thousands of fingerlings were recently introduced to our waters to help replenish their population after a devastating Red Tide and Algae Bloom of last year.
Even though Seatrout are making a comeback, the season on them is closed until further notice by FWC. This is all good for the future of our fishery. They are fun to catch for all kids nine years old to ninety on light spinning reels and rods. Handle them with care prior to releasing as well as during the releasing process to return to the water. One will find best results fishing for them in the clearer waters of the passes and Charlotte Harbor.
A NOTE OF CAUTION TO ALL ANGLERS: KNOW AND UNDERSTAND THE FISHING REGULATIONS! THEY ARE SUBJECT TO CHANGE FREQUENTLY, AS RESULT OF FISH POPULATION STUDIES.
Ladyfish, Jack Crevalle, Spanish mackerel and a few pompanos are around and considered by-catches while fishing grass flats and passes. The waters are alive with baitfish giving anglers opportunity to throw their cast nets.
Avid SWFL anglers should keep in mind that we are strategically located with quick and easy accessibility to other areas on the east coast, such as Jensen Beach, Stuart, Miami Bay and the Keys. Those with trailers can haul their boats and be at anyone of the above locations within 3 – 4 hours. More adventurous anglers may choose to navigate the Caloosahatchee via Lake Okeechobee and out the St. Lucie lock, through the Everglades or around the horn.
The east coast offers quicker accessibility to more pelagic species than we have here on the west coast, as well as deeper water just a few miles from shore for those targeting reefs and structure. The only caveat is the weather. When the weather forecast is good, just go. If one does not have or want to take their vessel, when the weather forecasts are good, hire a guide close to overnight accommodations.
The annual ‘Mullet Run’ starts around September in the Stuart, Florida location. The weather patterns should hold fairly firm throughout August and into September for the east coast. August is one of my favorite months to fish the east coast offshore. The bait is abundant and the game fish follow them. 1st Mate Vicki and I will be watching east coast weather patterns to decide where and when to go this month or next month, if not both. I stay in touch and ‘in tune’ with current Florida fishing shows, guides and print publications to plan our travel dates. We are looking forward to a trip over to the east coast soon for reef, tuna, dolphin and sailfish aboard Fish Face II, our Pathfinder HPS Bay Boat.