CONDITIONS: Sure didn’t take long for summer weather conditions to take hold. Although, still not at the full bore daily afternoon t-storm pattern, there is enough unsettled weather most days to remind us of where we’re heading. This week’s forecast shows a beginning of a east to west flow of weather coming out of the Everglades and heading our way laden with storm water…..there will be three or four afternoons that keeping a sky watch and readiness to abort your fishing outing should be in order for safety’s sake. Thankfully, the winds are light and streaming out of the east most of the week which should keep the water fairly clean. That will end with a strong “system” coming in at us from the south late week. The tides will ease off the “blue moon” of last week and keep the tidal current reasonable. Finally, the air temperatures continue to drive our water temperatures upward……expect those temps to hold close to 86 this week.
BACKWATER: Best description of our backwater fishing continues to be “inconsistent”. One day the action is “lights out” and twenty four hours later, with similar conditions, it’s dead slow. Overall, would recommend working spots for 15-20 minutes and if poor action move on; however if you hit a spot where the action level shows evidence of species and size that you’re looking for. Stay and understand the bite will be slow and persevere banishing thoughts of moving again. If tarpon is your target, still and fair to good chance so getting some action along the north edge of the Marco River between the Snook Inn and the La Peninsula complex. Choose to set up in one of the deeper holes and set your bait (cut catfish on the bottom) into either tide. Also experience has shown that early morning is best with light boat traffic and placid water. Pompano are around and moving quickly and still feeding lightly. Capri, Hurricane and Caxambas Passes are still the conduits the pomps use and they are most likely to feed in the first and last hour of either tide when the current is the weakest and they are on the move. Worth a try with tipped small jigs worked deep. Worth a 20-30 minute shot; no action, move on. Mangrove snapper love the hot water and will be the “go-to” species as the summer moves forward. They should be on most mangrove edges where there is swift current and bait. Work with live bait or whole shrimp with just enough weight to hold bottom. They are your best bet as summer conditions take hold.
NEARSHORE: Sea conditions should be OK here with light winds until late week. As you leave the backwaters, keep an eye open for bird action all along the first and second reefs as that is the signal for pelagic action forcing bait schools to the surface. Can either anchor up on structure spots or stay mobile and work the perimeter of the bait eruptions with a tipped top water jig worked quickly…..you can even troll the jig at 4-5 knots along the perimeter of the action pools. Look for mackerel, bluefish and jacks / blue runner action. If snapper is your passion, might try anchoring on the Walton Reef just off Caxambas Pass and get some chum in the water followed by freelining cut bait bits into the current driven slick….the bigger mangrove and lane snapper will rise up in the water column and strike like a banshee. The legendary Five Mile Reef complex southwest of the Walton is another top area for snapper action.
OFFSHORE: Watch the weather movement here on your radar or smartphone…….can’t outrun those storms. Deeper wrecks are the late spring / summer homes for hungry pelagics i.e kingfish, cobia, permit, sharks and amberjack. Chum effort is an absolute necessity as you set up and try to draw the action. A live blue runner in the slick on wire leader will draw the kingfish’ the cobia will show up on the surface and cruise by looking like sharks……for them it’s sight casting a live thread herring right in front of their noses as the cruise by. The permit’s favorite is a small blue claw crab freelined into the chum and ….finally, the shark will take anything.
LAST NOTE: The gag grouper harvest opens again on 6/1 but the minimum take size has been increased to 24″