by: Capt. Bart Marx
This summer has set all kinds of records for heat in our area. I have lived in the area for over 60 years and only one other time do I remember it being so hot. It was the late 70’s, and I was working on a cattle farm mending fence. The temperature was in the 100’s and with the humidity it was too hot to work. I am an outdoors kind of guy, and this summer I learned from my golden retriever, Maverick, when to go in the house where the A/C is on. When I have been out in the boat it is hot, and the fishing is just okay. The water has been over 85 degrees since March, and it affects fish as they try and go deeper or under docks and tree limbs that hang over the water to create shade where it is a little cooler. If the weather is good, it allows those bull reds to sneak into the shallow water along our coast from Lemon Bay to Estero Bay and there should be schools of pin fish on the grass beds searching for food, which starts the food chain. With the crazy weather the schools of white bait have been in and out of the harbors several times over the summer. But if you are one of those anglers that spend 3 or 4 days a week on the water you may have seen some of these schools of reds. They are the big bull females that come to feed to go back into the Gulf to spawn. If you find them usually you can’t catch one in the slot limit as they usually are too big. Lots of fun to catch and release, in the past I have brought my fly rod and caught them over the limit on a fly rod. It is fun to bring extra light tackle to have some fun, bring a 10lb. setup and catch some. My friends and I would wade fish with SCUBA diving booties, you catch one of those big red they will chase you to hide in the muddy water you are creating backing away from the mangroves. I have had them run into your shins and it is like you got kicked in the shin with work boots. If you like to offshore fish, the snapper and hog fish should be in the 40-to-60-foot range using crustations for bait, they both will eat live shrimp. The lane snapper should be plentiful between 50 and 80 feet and I use frozen squid, sardines and frozen shrimp to get the bite started. If you have green backs or live shrimp when the bite slows down, that is the time to use live bait as this is when the bigger fish will be harvester. If you are able to get out to the 90 to 100 foot range, yellow tail snapper and muttons can be found.