Mid June is the beginning of a hot summer to come. When fishing during the summer months, heat and water temperature will control how, when and what you fish for. Mixing the right tide with the right time of day is key to catching fish. Choosing the wrong mix will have you going simply for a boat ride.
Bait is the first obstacle since the normal patterns of bait fish are a bit off this year.
When heading out to catch greenbacks, you need to bring along a few nets with different size meshes. I keep a 12-foot, 3/8-inch and a 10-foot, 1/4-inch Calusa nets in the boat. When you run across smaller baits, the ¼ inch mesh will keep you from gillng them in the net. You can find bigger bait around the range markers and small bait on the flats.
Lately we’ve seen up to an 8 degree air temperature change from morning to afternoon from the sun. This big of a swing can really make a difference when fishing on the flats. Starting early is the most productive time to fish, but what you’re fishing for and where you’re fishing will dictate when you fish. As of late redfish have slowed, but fishing a high tide first thing in the morning can make for a productive day for reds. I’ve found some success fishing greenbacks under a Cajun Thunder float and a free-lined piece of cut threadfin herring.
Trout have been pretty good as well, even in the heat of the summer. Just like with redfish mixing the early morning and higher tides is the most productive time. Fishing in 3- to 6-foot depths on the grass edges is where you’ll find action. Hook sizes will vary as bait sizes are all over the board. If you find smaller bait you can go down to No. 1 Daiichi circle hook or if you find bigger bait try the 1/0 circle hook.
Snook fishing should be good through the rest of the summer as big schools get ready for another spawn. You can find them around the spoil islands and beaches this time of year. The big females are very lazy and don’t want to exert a lot of energy, so using cut-up threadfin herring works great. Remember, all snook are catch-and-release this time of year, and we need to take extra precautions when targeting them.
Tarpon is probably the hottest species to target now. We still have schools running the beaches in the gulf looking for any type of food. Sight casting fish at sunrise is an absolute thrill. The bait of choice should be a quarter-size pass crab or a big threadfin herring. Match this with some 65-pound braided line tied to an Ohero 50-pound leader and you’re ready for the fight of a lifetime.
Jason Prieto is one of three Ruskin-based fishing guides and charter captains who share this column. He can be reached at (813) 727-9890 or [email protected]