Ponce Inlet Offshore Fishing Report: July 2014

[dropcap]J[/dropcap]uly offshore fishing offers anglers many options while calmer seas prevail. From the end of the jetties to running 100 miles out to chase tuna or anywhere in-between can be a possibility depending on what species is being targeted. Just off of the beach anglers will have the opportunity to land some of the biggest fish within sight of the beachgoers. King mackerel and tarpon can be found in 30’ to 70’ of water north or south of the inlet following the schools of baitfish. Slow trolling live pogies, mullet or dead ribbonfish in front of the inlet on the outgoing tide is a good place to start. Light #3 wire leaders with a chain of small treble hooks to prevent mackerel cut offs are favorite rigs fished on 12-20# tackle. Utilizing a very light drag setting makes the long runs exciting but also ensures the hooks do not pull on the larger fish that may be in the 30-50# class.

Good news is the Federal government is attempting to allow fishermen to eradicate some of the troublesome red snapper that keep eating baits intended for other fish. Bad news is they are creating another carnival situation by limiting the Atlantic open season to a handful of weekend days. July 2014 ATLANTIC RED SNAPPER season will be open on: Friday, July 11-Sunday, July 13; Friday, July 18-Sunday, July 20;and for a 2-day weekend Friday, July 25-Saturday, July 26 (closed July 27). Bag limit: 1 fish per person/per day with more information found on the web at http:// myfwc.com/…/recreational/snappers/ atlantic-snapper/.

Fishing on the near shore reefs and artificial structures, bottom fisherman will find a variety of reef dwellers that may be caught in addition to the prized red snapper. Drift fishing or anchored, anglers using cut herring and squid on double rigs will capture most of the stringer fish including large sea bass and a variety of snapper. Free lining a live bait or whole dead herring can catch the larger snappers up in the water column. Use smaller 3/0 hooks with a little piece of squid or fresh bonita chunk to capture triggerfish or red eye snappers if red snapper is not needed. July normally marks the summer thermocline return. Amberjack, cobia and snapper will mostly be found holding in the warmer water above the frigid summer thermocline that drops bottom water temperatures to the 55-60 degree range. Deploy light tackle drift lines with chunks of herring while chumming to catch the mangrove snappers up in the water column.

East side tuna opportunities are fun to attempt on the days with light breezes and flat seas. These conditions are optimal that allow anglers to find the birds and tunas nearby. Start looking for birds on the east side of the Gulf Stream (70-80 miles offshore) where the water temperatures cool slightly away from the Gulf Stream. High power radar has replaced binoculars for spotting flocks of birds which offers the best chance for a bite. Deploy a spread of lures or ballyhoo rigs on fluorocarbon leaders ahead of the active birds and be sure to not troll through the middle of a pack. Make wide turns on the outer perimeter ahead of the action to present the long running baits in the feeding frenzy. Keep the boat ahead as normal at the first strike to turn a single bite into multiple hookups of tunas.


Capt. Jon Zeller

New Smyrna Beach Billfish Invitational Sport Fishing Charters
(386) 290-4181