Rivers to Bay Report B: Capt. John Rivers

It’s zero dark thirty, you’re loading the boat and you’re already drenched in sweat; yep, welcome to July. But don’t let the heat keep you on the couch in the air conditioning, because fishing in July can be very good–you just have to change up your tactics a bit from what they were during the spring time. Snook are more lethargic, so you’ll be using more cut bait. Of course, they’ll eat live bait, but I think, since they’re more sluggish, you’ll have more luck with cut threadfin or cut chunks of mullet.

If you’re looking for a different style of snook fishing, try fishing off of the beaches from St. Petersburg all the way up to Anclote Key off of Tarpon Springs. Snook made the trek to the beach to spawn last month, and the stragglers will show up this month. There are a few different ways to catch these big fish, but please take care of them after you land one of these gentle giants. If you like tossing artificials, then you’ll have a blast; a small 1/8 ounce white buck tail jig is a go to for me. Another enticing lure is Rapala’s X-Rap Twitchin’ Minnow. Another way to target them is live grunts or a large white bait. Again, these fish are fun to catch, but make sure you take care to properly release them to make sure they swim off healthy.

A fun fish to catch this month is Spanish mackerel. These hard-striking, sleek, toothy critters are tons of fun on light tackle and fried up or in a fish dip can be pretty tasty. Red fishing can be tricky in July, but don’t get discouraged–just check the tides to make sure you have good water movement. I like an outgoing tide in July, and if you start right at the beginning of the drop of the tide, the red will be up under the mangroves resting in the shade, So, toss your offering up under the mangroves and be ready for a tug of war.

July is when I start to target mangrove snapper in the Bay. You can catch them all year in the Bay, but July and August, in my opinion, are the two best months, and boy, are they tasty! My set up for mangrove snapper is 20-pound leader and a Gamakatsu Octopus Hook #02410; it’s a #1 size hook and it works great. I also use a small split shot or very small egg weight depending upon which depth I’m fishing.

Last, I can’t forget about the king of the Bay, and I’m not talking about king mackerel–I’m referring to the silver king tarpon. These majestic mammoths can be found in many places in Tampa Bay, so make sure you always have a tarpon rod on the boat rigged and ready along with a few bottles of Gatorade, because if you hook one, you’ll need to rehydrate. As you can see, July has a lot of potential for some great days on the water, so put down the remote, head out and make some memories. ‘Til the next adventure.