Summer’s Arrival

By: Capt. Billy Norris

Summer is finally here and the fishing is hot!  As we move from our wintertime patterns into summer fishing, we will start to see the arrival of some of our area’s most sought after gamefish including permit, tarpon and snook.  The water is currently in the upper 70s, and is continuing to rise.  Our rainy season has begun, so remember to plan your fishing day accordingly, factoring in the inevitable afternoon thunderstorm.  Spring was one my favorite times of year to fish, and our local waters offer some of the best springtime fishing on Earth!

The backwaters have been very productive lately.  Snook, jack, redfish and trout have all been aggressively taking baits.  This time of year, snook begin to make their way out of the rivers and estuaries where they hang out all winter.  They move through the backwaters and end up cruising the beaches in very shallow water. I target snook in the backwaters, but my favorite is to catch them from the shore.  As they make their way to the beaches, they will change colors, losing their olive-drab coloration and instead adopting a silver, nearly white, complexion.  They can be difficult to see as they move up and down the beaches, but to the trained eye, targeting beach cruising snook can make for an exciting day of fishing!  Trout have also been around in large numbers.  Although the majority of the fish have been on the smaller side, there are some larger fish being caught.  For backwater bait, pilchards or thread fins are always my go to.  There have been massive schools of pilchards along the coast, many of which can be caught directly from shore.  If you can’t throw a net, artificial works as well, and as a last resort you can always buy shrimp, but shrimp are not necessarily a great summertime bait when there is so much whitebait readily available.

The offshore bite has also been great!  This past month we have been catching snapper, grouper, cobia, kingfish and permit.  The high-wind weather has finally calmed down, and the seas have been very pleasant.  As the water warms up, the kingfish and cobia will take off, as they prefer cooler water.  However, their disappearance coincides with the arrival of a local favorite, tarpon!  The tarpon have showed up in our and can be found up and down the coast in shallow water.  Look for them mixed in with the big bait schools.  And as always, where there is a lot of bait, there are sharks.  We have been catching and releasing all different species of sharks over the last month, including spinners, blacktips, hammers, bulls, sandbars and more.  Last month, Pale Horse Fishing Charters has been fishing tarpon in the Florida Keys. The Keys trips are all booked up for the 2024 season, but if you’ve ever wanted to experience world class tarpon fishing, give us a call and get on our calendar for the 2025 Keys tarpon season!