June is an awesome month to fish offshore out of Sebastian. This is the time of year when the seas calm and smaller boats can get out there and fish. Also, the water warms on this side of the Gulf Stream between 70 and 120 feet, and the dolphin will move in to feed when the conditions are right. In other words, when the water is warm and blue and there is bait and weeds, there should be dolphin in close this time of year.
When seas are calm, change your trolling spread up a bit to include more “naked” ballyhoo and less chuggers. Go with plain ballyhoo and make them swim nicely versus skipping in the waves. The fish can see better under these conditions so make them look nice and realistic. This technique lends itself well to hooking up sailfish also. The same conditions that attract the dolphins will attract the sails. Often times they will give themselves away by “free jumping” in the area. Remember to release sailfish boat side to reduce the stress on these magnificent game fish.
June is another great month for bottom fishing. Grouper fishing has been hot in our area as of late. If you’re bottom fishing and get “rocked up” by a big fish, immediately change it up. Go to heavy gear and crank down that drag with a hammer! When that grouper “thunk” happens, lower your rod and wind like crazy. Lift your rod only when you can’t reel anymore. If you’re good, you can get one more pump and wind sequence in before the grouper makes his first charge for the rocks. At this point you hold your own and hope he can’t make it. Some anglers will take advantage of the calm seas and drop in the deeper waters this time of year. Getting your bait on a piece of bottom that is marking fish in 150-to-250 feet of water can be a challenge. One technique is to drift over it. This requires the captain to stay at the wheel and nudge the boat in and out of gear so that the lines are going straight down. In deeper water you may need to start your drift well up current to hit the spot. A live bait can be deadly for this. This technique requires patience and repetition but will produce some quality fish for diligent anglers. Some other tips are to use braided line to reduce drag in the current and rig a bait that doesn’t spin. The bait will be firing for the bottom so rig it such that it streams down, rather than twists.
I catch a lot of dolphin while bottom fishing in 90 feet this time of year. Keep a spinner ready with proper leader and hook so that you can pitch a bait to a hungry mahi or cobia. Typically, I’ll target mangrove snapper by chumming with a block of frozen chum and/or using diced fish chunks from the prep table. The mangroves may be barely visible under the chum line. They will require a free lined 1/0 hook hidden in a small piece of bait. Dolphin are usually not picky when they show up, but they can be gone in a flash so be ready. I always have a medium heavy spinner ready rigged with 60-pound leader and a buck tail jig or big swim bait. The crew should talk about a “plan” ahead of time. Designate one guy to throw the lure while another goes for the dead/live bait when a big pelagic shows up. Sometimes the event is over quickly and a premade plan can pay off.
We also must pay close attention to those summer thunderstorms this summer. If the forecast calls for afternoon storms, plan to get out early and get back in before the storms hit. Watch out for those days when the severe thunderstorms are predicted to form early and move east. These offshore moving storms can be severe and can catch you off guard.
Best of luck out there! Life is short so don’t pass up a chance to go fishing.