With the heat and the high water temperatures, fishing can be tough. We hope for a light breeze without strong waves or storms. Even getting out early, it is still humid. I like to start early and end after four or five hours. This way, I get out, catch fish and get back before the heat overwhelms me. As always, I take plenty of water or Gatorade drinks to stay hydrated. This is important to make sure heat stroke doesn’t set in.
One way to beat the heat is to jump in the water. Scallop fever is still in full swing. From Hernando Beach to Crystal river, look in the 4 to 8-foot water depths. If you don’t have any ideas where to go, just look for the congregation of boats. With just a mask, snorkel and fins, scalloping is a great family fun day on the water. Also, remember to put up a diver down flag and bring it down when you move the boat (it’s the law). The regulations for scalloping are two gallons whole bay scallops in the shell or one pint of bay scallop meat per person; a maximum of 10 gallons of whole bay scallops in the shell or 1/2-gallon bay scallop meat per vessel. The season ends in our area on September 24th.
Offshore fishing has been challenging but, with some perseverance, you should be able to have a productive day. The gag grouper have been in anywhere from 15 to 60 feet of water. They don’t seem to have a strong pattern right now. As the water cools in the fall, start to look for them in the shallower waters closer to 10 feet. On recent trips, fresh cut baits seem to work the best. Second choice would be frozen baits like mullet, mackerel or threadfins. Use a 7/0 hook and as light a weight as you can to keep the bait on the bottom. Also, you might want to use chum–either cut baits or a chum block.
The cobia are still around. I always keep a rod ready to throw with a bait that I can grab quickly when one comes by the boat. These fish usually aren’t picky and will hit anything worked fast by them. I love cobia, because they will fight to the very end. Don’t bring a big cobia into the boat green, they can do a lot of damage to you and your boat. It’s best to gaff a keeper cobia (33 inches to the fork) and net one if you’re not sure.