Hernando County BY: Capt. Gary Strickland

August is here and that means Summer is in full force on the Nature Coast. The days are long and hot! You can bet if you’re scorching under that sun, so are the fish. Try to beat the heat and get started early (before sunrise) or late (around sunset or later). Night-fishing is also a great alternative and can include pole fishing or gigging. Getting on the water at night can be a great adventure, especially if you’ve never done it. Make sure you have the right equipment including a spotlight, fishing gear (including an anchor), proper safety lighting on your boat and a marine radio. Live bait, cut bait and artificial baits that have glow to them will work well in the dark.

Inshore species are getting lazy from the warm water temperatures. Look for areas with cooler water like deep holes, springs or creeks with over-hanging trees. Redfish are still by the rocky islands and deep cuts. If it’s tough getting a bite on the outside, head into the backwaters. Large fish are lying in the creeks along the banks and near the edges of pot holes. For redfish, cut bait (mullet, pinfish, ladyfish) is our first choice of bait, as it provides an easy meal for fish. The oil and smell of the cut bait travels long distances and draws them in. Live creek chubs with a 3/0 circle hook through the lips, free-lined, is a great second choice.

Cobia are in abundance in the shallow Gulf waters during the summer months. This is the best time of year to catch one on our coast. These fish are warm water fish, so the weather and heat are not deterring them. You can catch them from the beach or by boat. They prefer live bait like pinfish, creek chubs, greenbacks or crabs. Use a small weight to get your bait on the bottom. When you hook up to one, hang on! These fish fight and then fight some more. Be mindful that the FWC recently changed regulatory laws on Cobia, increasing the minimum size limit from 33 inches to 36 inches and reducing the vessel limit from six to two fish per day.

Did someone say scallop season? Where? Florida? Well… the scallops seem to be scarce this year. We’ve had reports of scalloping groups of four to six people getting less than a dozen per trip. If you want to try it out, head north to Citrus County waters and look for long grass in four to six feet of water. You’ll need snorkel equipment and an abundance of luck. Let us know if you catch any!

Check out our local Facebook groups: Reel Shallow Fishing Group & Fishing the Chazz. There are new posts daily with fishing info and angler pictures. Good luck everyone and tight lines!


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