[dropcap]A[/dropcap]ugust is usually the hottest month of the year along the gulf coast weatherwise, and relief from the heat is after still over the horizon. Barring any tropical activity our main driving force in the weather is the pattern of diurnal heating from the sun initiating a seabreeze and possibly thunderstorms associated with it. This pattern regularly starts with a light off shore breeze beginning around sunrise (called a “landbreeze”) followed by a brief period of calm winds and fast rising temperature toward the middle of the day. Once the land heats up suffi ciently to make the air rise inland, more air is pulled in from the gulf to replace it and a cooling onshore “seabreeze” develops. the savvy shore angler recognizes this pattern and uses it to their advantage by fishing the gulf beaches early in the day when the off shore breeze quiets the surf. It’s a good idea to then take a break during the heat of the day when the wind dies off and return later in the afternoon to a location like a pier or jetty which is protected from the afternoon seabreeze and uses the breeze to their advantage to present their bait in an appealing location and manner.
Another important pattern often overlooked by the casual beach fisher is the timing and force of the tides. Our area having semi-diurnal tides (i.e. only once a day high and low) makes even subtle changes in the water level and flow of current all the more important. Our fish have evolved to sense and take advantage of these slight variations and the successful angler must do the same to consistently find and catch fish. the tides in August are typically highin the morning hours and falling through most of the afternoon and into the evening. the two NEAP tide periods this month are prolonged through several successive days (9th through the 11th and 22nd through the 24th). These days especially will challenge many anglers from shore or boat and making good decisions of timing and location to find a bite will be even more critical to the angler’s success.
Many anglers simply avoid fishing the NEAP tide periods, but I have learned by stepping into the challenge makes fishing the ‘normal’ tide phase periods even more productive. Jetties and piers can be VERY productive fishing spots during these “slow periods” because what little water level change (and current) there is usually funneled through the inlets and bars nearby. Thus areas like Perdido Pass, Fort Gaines and Cedar Point Pier that are often considered ‘unfishable’ due to the overwhelming speed of the tidal current are after much more manageable during these days with less current. It is a good practice for a novice angler to keep a journal or notebook remarking some of the details that led to a day fishing being successful or not. This information is a valuable learning tool in the angler’s evolution to better understand the intricate forces and fickle nature of fishing and solving the riddle of where the fish are and what they are biting.
Surfcasting and plugging are very popular and productive approaches to fishing in August besides being a great way to beat the heat. Just the basic approach of throwing a piece of fresh shrimp rigged Carolina style on a #2 single hook with a one ounce egg weight out just beyond the small waves after produces a variety of whiting or ground mullet (gulf and southern kingfish) along with the occasional pompano, ladyfish, black drum, stingray, many other species and the seemingly ever-present hardhead catfish. Another good reason to carry along some needle nosed pliers for hook removal.
Calm morning conditions after present a great opportunity for plug fishing with a topwater lure like a Skitterwalk or Zara Spook for speckled trout, bluefish, ladyfish and spanish mackerel. the later of which would probably encourage the wise to add a piece of heavy, clear monofilament line as a leader to help prevent cutoff s. Diving plugs like the Rapala X-Rap, Bomber and Yozuri will certainly get the attention of these gamefish as do the more durable and less expensive silver spoons (like Mr. Champ, Sidewinder and Krocodile) in the ¾ to 2 ounce range. Again adding a piece of heavy monofilament line will help prevent cutoff s from the toothy critters. these same lures work well from piers and jetties in the gulf along with the old standard ½ ounce white leadhead jig (Looney Jig) and the increasingly popular “Bubble Rig”. the bubble rig is made with a clear plastic float and 3 to 4 feet of heavy monofilament line with a small jig, spoon or straw rig (a 3” piece of drinking straw or rubber sunglasses holder over a #6 treble hook) attached. the hollow plastic float is partially filled with water which aids in gaining casting distance. the retrieve is a fast jerky motion that causes an audible “blurp” on the water surface and imparts a darting action on the lure. Gamefish attracted to the disturbance see the lure as a fleeing baitfish and pounce on it.
King mackerel action is usually slow from the Gulf State Park Pier in August, but there are after plenty of other large game fish to hold the interest of anglers. Tarpon are still migrating through, as are roaming schools of jack crevelle and bull red fish along with bonita (Little Tunny) and the seemingly ever present sharks. Any of these eat the live sardines (called LYs) that school around the pier looking for refuge and the anglers present them live free lined, under a float or ‘snobbled’ when freshly dead. Also plenty of spanish mackerel, bluefish and ladyfish are available for eager anglers almost the whole length of the pier on many days and they will eat a variety of live or artificial baits especially the ‘bubble rig’. Also speckled trout and flounder along with slot sized redfish are usually available from the pier in August by using medium and light tackle to present 3” to 4” long live baits like finger mullet, bull minnows and small LYs.
Just be sure to bring your sunglasses, a good hat, plenty of sunscreen and cooling water cuz it’s HOT out there!