by Capt. Dave Stephens
This has been a hot summer so far! We’ve been hitting triple numbers in the heat index. This has also affected our fishery some, fish are in a sense like us. During the hottest parts of the day they just want to find a cool place to lay, whether it be in a nice shady spot or an area with deep cool water. What I’ve been doing is trying to get as early a start as possible, around 630am, so we can get back in before the heat gets unbearable.
Snook fishing has been good during the morning. Most of the fish have been on the smaller side 18-24’, however the numbers have been good. Live bait has been the bait of choice. Since most of the bait has spawned, it’s been on the small side. I have been using small popping corks or split shots to help cast. Look for fish on shady shorelines, and deeper points with good moving water.
Summer time fishing in the harbor to me means mangrove snapper. These guys seem to move into all the areas that hold other game fish. You can locate snapper on mangrove shorelines, in potholes and on bars. For the anglers that are looking for dinner, this is your best shot. Good news is they’re probably one of the tastiest fishes out there. On the higher tides, deeper mangrove shorelines and points have been doing very well. As the tide drops out look for a deep pothole or fish the bars. The smaller bait really gets these guys going. I recommend downsizing your tackle; 15-20# fluorocarbon, and a #1 circle hook. Remember, these guys are considered a reef fish and you must use circle hooks. The size limit is 10” and you may possess 5/angler. If you are fishing in federal waters offshore, check their rules.
The last few weeks the juvenile tarpon bite has been very good before 10am. For the most part, I mostly sight fish these lil guys, so certain conditions help. The most important for me is calm winds. The lil guys don’t show as much when they roll, so a small chop can make it difficult. Often, I find them in areas the water is not very good. So, if I’m throwing live bait it doesn’t live long. Calm conditions and good water are the two main things I look for. The good news is these guys will generally eat when I locate them on the flats, however they are a fish and a tarpon at that, so sometimes you have to find the right pod that wants to play. To me, sight casting a 15-20# poon on light tackle is the best the flats have to offer. Well, it’s in my top 2.