Permit and big snook rank right at the top my list of favorite fish to catch in July! Permit can be caught in all Florida waters as well as the Bahamas and Caribbean. Here on Florida’s west coast, I target nearshore and offshore wrecks and reefs with the occasional opportunity to catch them around the passes in May, June and July on the full and new moon tide phases as they search for crabs flushing on the outgoing tides. Stalking them on the flats is mostly a Florida Keys thing, but is very exciting and something to add to your bucket list. Permit as large as 40 to 50 pounds are possible with fish in the 15 to 25-pound range much more common.
Small live crabs are by far the best bait. Never head offshore without at least a couple of crabs in the well. Dead pieces of crabs will also work from time to time and they have been known to, at times, take a live shrimp. Small hooks on light leader work best. I use my 30-pound class Bull Bay spinning rod (medium action fast tip) and team it up with a Quantum Smoke 50 spinning reel with 30-pound Spiderwire Ultracast Invisabraid and a 25 or 30-pound fluorocarbon leader. The offshore water in the summer can be very clean, so dropping down to even a 20-pound fluorocarbon leader can help at times. Getting the fish away from the wrecks and structure, after hook up, can be the hardest part. They are amazingly strong and great fighters.
The beach is where I target my big snook, as this is the time of year they go there to spawn. Big snook in the 40-inch class are getting harder to catch these days on Florida’s west coast, as last years red tide put a hurting on them. However, July on the beach is probably your best bet. Live free-lined pilchards, threadfin herring or pinfish will all work well as do dead baits such as ladyfish and mullet fished on the bottom due to the high water temps. Normally, the water in July is very clean. Try to use as light a leader as you can get away with (25 to 30-pound fluorocarbon leader is my normal go to). You want a rod with some back bone, as really big snook will battle you and their sand paper like mouth will wear through your leader. Getting them to the boat as quickly as you can is a must. Remember that this is spawning season. So, get a quick pic and then put them back into the water. Target the passes and areas of good moving water for best results.
Adding permit and big snook to your summer catch list will create memories that will last a lifetime!
Catch Capt. Michael Anderson every Saturday morning on News CH8 at 6:30am for the Reel Animals Fishing Show and Saturdays for Reel Animals Saturday on 970WFLA from 6:00am to 8:00am and Sunday mornings on AM620 for the TA Mahoney Co. Reel Animals Radio Show from 7am to 9am. Or, to book a trip call 1-866-Gamefish.