Ponce Inlet Offshore Fishing Report: June 2014

11 year old Hunter Zona needs some help holding his first sailfish. Hunter was fishing with his dad Capt. Billy Zona on the “Bill Hunter” out of the Fishin’ Cove Marina in New Smyrna Beach. Photo courtesy of Fishin’ Cove Bait and Tackle.

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]raditionally June offers calmer sea conditions that allow boats of all sizes to venture offshore. From the beach to the gulfstream, fishermen will have several good options to enjoy the weatherand catch a fish, even in a smaller vessel. Tarpon, cobia and kingfish can be found off the beach north or south of the inlet following the schools of baitfish. Slow trolling live bait in front of the inlet on theoutgoing tide or sight casting on the bait pods with lures or jigs is a good place to start. Live mullet, ribbonfish or pogies fished on light wire with a stinger hook trailing is the preferred baits.
Last June the action was great on the intermediate reefs by angler’s bottom fishing. Mangrove snapper made a good showing in May and should be a favorite target this month. Anchoring and chumming produces the best catches with fish being caught up in the water column on lighter tackle free lining cut bait. Bouncing baits off the bottom will produce a variety of reef fish including black sea bass, red eyes, triggerfish and cobia to compliment the grouper opened last month. Cut herring and squid on double rigs will capture most of the stringer fish but don’t be surprised when a large grouper or snapper inhales the smallest of baits. Larger fish can be specifically fished using a long leader single rig with a fresh live bait or big chunk bait. Be sure to have a venting tool and de-hooker at the ready to release the numerous red snapper that will be caught trying to fill the cooler with the other good eating reef fish biting. The biggest obstacle is to get through the numerous red snapper still off limits in federal waters. Hopefully the government will announce the 2014 red snapper dates and include some days this month.

Further offshore, amberjacks and grouper will be biting from the 26-28 fathom ledges out to the steeples. A good plan is to mix up the day of deepwater fishing by trying both trolling and bottom fishing in the same trip. The dolphin bite in May will taper off this month but some larger gaffers should still be in the area. Blue water trolling action will also produce sailfish and a few wahoo in the same depths. Working the bottom structures, edges, temperature breaks and rips with a spread of naked and skirted swimming ballyhoo along with a bonita strip or two can reward those who are patient with a few quality fish.

By Jon Zeller