July in Sunny Florida

By: Capt. Bart Marx

There are plenty of species to target offshore red grouper, mangrove or gray snapper, yellow tail snapper. These are in the high range for good to eat. There are lots of anglers that like to drift for red grouper and it will produce enough for some meals. Back in the day we would drift for reds out from the Sanibel Light House about 210 degrees and run till we hit 45 feet and start catching squirrel fish. The ones that were caught on the mouth and were not bleeding we would throw them into the live well keeping them alive. As for the greedy ones that swallowed the hook well, they went in the ice cooler for later use. When we thought we had enough bait for the day, we would travel on the same heading till we reached the 65-foot depth then got the boat set up for drifting, always heading out when the water was 2 feet or less for seas. This is when we would cut the squirrel fish in chunks, hook it through the skin, and let the wind blow us. When two of us would get hit at the same time we threw a marking jug, reel up and go back and anchor up over that spot till the bite slowed, pull the anchor and start drifting again. There are several different ways to rig for drifting and a chicken rig will work and you will find some good spots that may hold mangrove, gray snapper and lanes. These species are great table fare and a lot of fun to catch! Mostly you will find them on small hard ledges and or artificial reefs and if you have chum and are quiet you can chum the mangroves up to the surface. Just don’t slam any lids of drop things on the deck or all that work will be in vain. I you don’t have chum, resort to a light rod and just a hook with a long leader. Using small baits mixed in the chum slick and let the line out so it sinks with the chum. And be ready when the line starts to fly off the spool flip the bail and hang on. You may have to avoid the barracudas and the sharks, as that will end up with just a portion of the fish known as the gray suit or the tax collector! If you find some wrecks around the 100-foot depth, there is a good chance there are yellow tail snapper there that can reach four to five pounds and are excellent eating. Inshore one each of snook, reds, and trout would be a great chance to catch an inshore slam. If you are new to the area, I am available to run on your boat and shorten the learning curve, or come along with me on a charter.