CONDITIONS: Get friendly with mid-day heat indexes well over 100 degrees…..looks like their going to be commonplace right through these summer months. Heat is tough on the anglers and equally unpleasant to the fish. Repeating again….as in past week reports, that the best approach to try and deal with the scorching heat is to move your trip earlier in the day and take an early exit just after noon. In four or five hours you’ll have different tide directions and strengths that will give you plenty of fishing opportunity. Other than the heat, the weather this week is unremarkable…….lots of the usual afternoon thunder-bangers but with a little less of the gusty winds we saw last week. We start the period coming off a full moon and racing tides that will ease in both directions during the week. The water temperatures have periodically pierced the 90 degree threshold but then fall back to the high 80’s in the evening.
BACKWATER: Best we can say is “day to day” that relate to unfathomable reasons that we will never understand. But…when you hit a good day or a good tide it’s fantastic and well worth the effort…. even enduring the bad days. With the heated conditions, the mainstay in the backwaters, by far, is the desirable mangrove snapper; most of them “miraculously” show at exactly a half inch under harvest size but there are most always a few “lunker size” that slip through and make it to your cooler. You’ll find most anywhere where you see the black skimmers and terns working the immense schools of white bait just about everywhere. They will jump on the smallest pieces of fresh bait……striking veraciously and give a significant fight. The other hot water fish is the legendary snook who also love the summer heat. Most snook are juveniles but every so often you’ll hit a spot holding lunkers feeding on a fast moving current holding lots of bait. Snook are always fun on the take with their slashing surface fight. Best spots to look for them now would be the back current points in Johnson, Rookery and Addison Bay…….on shallow current points on the incoming and the deeper exit creeks and channels on the outgoing. Preferred bait is pilchards or small thread herring.
NEARSHORE: If there were any rough water situations last week they will vanish this and provide a nice placid clean water environment. Look for mackerel to continue their prowling the inshore waters for schools of pilchards and threadfin. Look for bird action first…..swooping terns, diving pelicans and frantic gulls all signal pelagic action beneath. Keep the fishfinder engaged and fine tuned as you move over structure and lay target to the schools of white bait holding beneath. Set up …..up-current from the structure and get that chum going early. Tossing a couple bags of frozen shrimp bits into the action pool will also help. Work top water jigs tipped with shrimp on a fast retrieve right over the decending chum bits for the best action. Also good chance for all the attraction activity to draw snapper beneath the that can be had working heavier tipped jigs right into the slick. You can expect lane and mangrove snapper here as well as occasional action from the larger yellowtail snapper.
OFFSHORE: Expect some continued hot action out here particularly on grouper……both reds and gags. The red grouper are particularly active and continue to move inshore…..now a good start point would be in 40-45′ of water and work west drifting a live pinfish or cut ladyfish tight to the bottom. The gags will be deeper and bigger….work those guys starting in 60′ of water and again work west with the same baits. Gags are harvestable but minimum take size now is 24″. Also some nice action reported on cobia on an early summer surge as they head north. Look for them on most any wreck or reef and showing on the surface right up top (their curiosity gets the best of them) and will take a live thread herring tossed right to their nose. Hang on…….great fight.