Red snapper season for our south Atlantic federal waters will open on Friday, July 9 and end Sunday, July 10 at midnight. The bag limit will be 1 per person, unless you’re a shark. They will be eating more than their share. With that in mind, it might be a good idea to up your leader size to 80- or 100-pound test. You may get fewer bites, but you’ll be able to get the bigger fish up fast and lose fewer to the sharks.
July should bring some good catches of cobia on the larger pieces of bottom in the 85-to-90-foot reefs. So have a rod rigged with a cobia jig ready to throw when one pops up behind the boat while your bottom fishing, or when you spot a manta ray on your ride out or in. Too often I hear of someone that just missed a shot at a big cobia because they didn’t have a rod ready.
Look for big amberjack to move into the 85- and 90-foot reefs as well, especially if we get a cold water thermocline move in. Expect kingfish to be consistent up and down the reefs, as well as around bait pods within a few miles of the beach. Live threadfins, pilchards or blue runners for the bigger kings work the best but even trolling a drone spool or ballyhoo will work.
The dolphin bite offshore was weak this May and I don’t expect it to improve much, but I’m hoping to see some schoolie dolphin to come through on weed lines and color changes from 90 feet to 240 feet.
If you’re fishing during the two-day red snapper season, be aware of rules about descending devices. Also, the use of circle hooks north of the 28-degree north line. You’ll find all the regulations on the FISH RULES app on your phone, or iPad. FWC will be out there protecting our resource so expect to be checked there protecting our resource so expect to be checked.
“Fish on, gotta go!”