[dropcap]H[/dropcap]ello Citrus County anglers! I hope you all are keeping cool from the summer heat. Scalloping is still the main attraction off our area’s coast and as the season progresses the scallops will be getting larger. With school going back in session, the crowds will not be as large and you may only see a handful of boats; especially on weekdays. Many of the shallow locations have been picked over so don’t hesitate to try a bit deeper if the pickings are slim.
On the inshore fishing scene, the steady trout action is still out on the grass patches in the 10ft depth range. Fishing for reds has really improved and large schools can be targeted around the major moon phases.
Concentrate your efforts on the outer mangrove keys and spoil islands. The last couple hours of the incoming tide are hard to beat, and remember a stealthy approach helps with success. Push pole or trolling motor up to a likely spot, anchor down and position yourself up-tide. Locate points with a hard limestone bottom and plenty of mullet activity. Free line a live pinfish, or for a sure hook up, try a fresh piece of cut mullet; or my favorite, cut lizard fish (yes try it, it works great). For those who prefer artificials, a 1/4oz gold spoon or a D.O.A CAL jerk bait in the glow or new penny color, rigged weedless, is ideal for casting along the rocky structure.
Take advantage of the full moon this month and target some fine tasting mangrove snapper. Shallow rocks in as little as 8ft of water and outwards to your favorite offshore locations will be covered with mangrove snapper. Anchor up, begin chumming and free line some live shrimp. I’ve caught mixed bags of snapper, sea bass, grunt, mackerel, grouper, cobia, flounder, pompano etc… all on one rock. You never know what that next cast will bring.
The opening of gag grouper season has been fantastic and rocks and ledges in as little as 6ft of water have been producing keepers. Using combinations of frozen threadfin herring and live baits have been keeping the rods bent, but our trolling season is not too far away. Also, drifting with the same baits over live bottom in 45ft to 55ft will bring in some added red grouper as well. Catch the red grouper while you can, the new law says the season closes September 16th this year. Happy fishing and we’ll see you next month.