ST AUGUSTINE – JULY FISHING REPORT
Some really exciting fishing happens over the next couple of months here in Northeast Florida. From sight fishing for tailing redfish in the grass, to jumping huge tarpon behind the shrimp boats. It’s about to get fun!
Something unique happens this time of year in our region and it makes for some of the coolest visuals in fishing. Flood tides will occur around the full and new moons, allowing redfish, drum, and sheepshead to access areas of the marsh that they usually can’t get to. Theses areas are lush with fiddler crabs and the fish know it. They will be crawling on their bellies and tailing like crazy in the grass looking to fatten up on those crabs. There really isn’t any secret to finding the areas that will hold tailing fish. You just need to go out there on the highest tides and look for yourself. Bring an old pair of sneakers, or better yet some wading boots. Probably the most effective way to catch the tailers is to park the boat at the edge of the flat, and get out and wade after them. You don’t need a super skinny water skiff to get in on the action. I like to toss a soft plastic Saltwater Assassin paddle tail rigged on a wide gap weedless hook. That hook will work with any Saltwater Assassin soft plastic and help keep the grass off you lure. Lead the fish by as much as possible, and let the lure drop right in front of the fish. Sometimes they are really into feeding on the bottom and it’s hard to get them to look up. When that’s the case, I’ll insert a small glass rattle into the soft plastic, and sometimes that will do the trick. This is also a great time to bust out the fly rod. Some of the best takes I’ve ever seen have come on the long rod using a crab fly in the flooded grass.
The flounder have been pretty steady all summer and there should be a good number of them around all the area inlets. Finger mullet rigged on a jighead or fish-finder rig then bounced along the jetty rocks will be the preferred flatty catching method. Also, don’t overlook those small “drains” in the creeks on the last hour or so on the outgoing tide.
The late summer beach fishing should be going strong, and the tarpon will be behind the shrimp boats and on the pogy pods. The shrimpers have been at it all summer, but this time of year can be really good for the tarpon behind the boats. Wait for the shrimpers to dump their by-catch, and just keep an eye out for the tarpon that will come up. The sharks will usually be on the feed first, but stick around a bit and see if a tarpon or two will show up. When you see the fish, just toss your live or dead bait out in front of him, and hold on. While almost any other time you encounter tarpon, they can be very picky, but when behind the shrimp boats they are usually in the mood to eat. The tarpon that are on the bait pods will be feeding early in the AM, and then again after the afternoon thunderstorms. Net a few pogys and freeline them around the pods. You can also add a little weight and try to fish under the pod. No matter how we’re fishing for them, I like to use the same rig. I prefer a 7/0-10/0 VMC circle hook with a 60-80lb leader connected to a 40lb braided mainline. Just remember to bow to the king!