by Captain Terry Fisher
June is a month for opportunities galore when it comes to targeting fish inshore and offshore. Moderate and consistent warm water temperatures will create the perfect situation for virtually all species. An abundance of shrimps, pinfish, crabs and mullet (dead or alive) are available for purchase from most area bait and tackle shops.
Big tarpon are cruising the beaches. They are in the passes, areas of Pine Island Sound, and Charlotte Harbor. These fish are migrating in schools from the south and are looking to feed on virtually any bait in their paths. Live/dead ‘baits of choice’ include ‘Silver Dollar’ size blue crab, mullet, herring, sardines, ladyfish, pinfish and catfish fillets. These baits may be fished on the bottom of the seabed or under a float. Use gear strong enough to handle anything from 60-150lb. fish. Spinning reels in the 6000-8000 series loaded on 30-40lb. rated rods with 65lb. test line, 80lb. leader, with 8/0 to 9/0 circle hooks should be sufficient for most hook-ups. Sharks are following the tarpon and will make a great by-catch.
Snook season is closed, but there are no laws that prevent anglers from catching them. June is a fantastic month to look for big snook cruising along the beaches and passes. Many snook have moved to these locations from rivers, canals, and reefs to feed and spawn. They are here in good numbers and are awesome fighters. Live, dead and artificial presentations all work. I prefer to free-line live sardines, herring or pinfish, using light tackle with circle hooks. Try not to use tackle (too light) that will prolong the fight to the extent of exhausting a big fish. I recommend 4000 series spinning reels with 10-20lb. rated rods loaded with 15lb. test line.
Redfish are here in decent numbers in ‘back-country’ locations such as Matlacha Pass and Pine Island Sound. Even though their season is temporarily closed, they are an awesome fish to catch. Target them on high, incoming tides with light tackle or locate them ‘tailing’ on the shallow flats on low tides. I find that they are less spooky and easier to catch on high incoming tides around spoil islands and oyster bars. Live shrimps, small blue crabs and gold spoons are very effective presentations.
Trout season has been temporarily closed, but still a fun venue for a family outing or simply a day on the water. Fish for them on the grass flats in 3 to 6 ft. of water. I use very light tackle. My bait of choice and technique is a live shrimp on a 1/8 oz. jig-head, suspended under a popping cork. The lighter the tackle, the more fun it is to catch trout.
Spanish mackerel may be targeted with artificial spoons and Gotcha type lures on thin wire or 80lb. monofilament leaders. Live bait preferences are free-lined pilchards on 30lb. monofilament leaders with small ‘J’ hooks. Look for diving birds to located feeding schools of mackerel.
Larger red, black and gag grouper and red snapper will be caught in 70’- 100’ of water using jigs or live baits on circle hooks. Lane/vermillion snapper and porgy will be by-catches and make great eating. Be sure and comply with both state and federal regulations regarding types of hooks, techniques and harvesting. Mangrove (gray) snapper are in the passes and on the reefs. Basic drops for these are light line with a 2ft. leader, 1/0 to 2/0 circle hook loaded with squid, shrimp, sardine or herring (dead or alive).
Permit are around the reefs. Small crabs are my favorite bait to use. I chum up the water with shrimp to attract them to the surface and then free-line one behind the boat. These fish are aggressive and lots of fun to catch. Use medium size tackle to enjoy the fight. Kingfish are around the reefs as well. They will eat live baits, but trolling large silver spoons deep over the reef is an effective method for catching them. Wire leaders will prevent cut offs.
Cobia will show up around and, on these reefs, as well, so keep a rod rigged with an artificial eel for a quick cast. However, the best chance will be to have a rod ready and a live eel in the bait well to present when the opportunity arises.