The dog days of August are upon us. July is one month I didn’t want to see end, the fishing action was spectacular here on Florida’s Space Coast. As mentioned in my previous report, things wouldn’t change much until September, so tarpon, redfish, and speckled trout remained the dominant attractions. We also occasionally fish for snook, tripletail, and sharks when the opportunities arises or someone wants. The menu stays the same over the next month; soon however, the fall bait run will begin and we’ll enter the fall transition period.
Tarpon fishing has been red hot over the past few weeks. The month started off fishing out along the beaches shadowing bait pods just outside the breakers. Once the annual cold water upwelling got started many of these migrating adult tarpon moved into the warmer area backwaters. Over the past two weeks we’ve been finding big concentrations of 50-125lb fish inshore in Daytona Beach, New Smyrna Beach, Mosquito Lagoon, and the Indian River Lagoon. These tarpon have provided opportunities in a variety of ways including laid up fish, schooling fish, daisy chaining fish, and quick rollers holding on the bottom. We broke out the fly rod on several days and jumped 7 fish (50-100+lb) that ate a fly and had another half a dozen that rolled up on the fly but missed. Most of these fish were laid up and/or finning on the surface. Ten days ago I sight casted a big tarpon finning on the surface and ended up landing the 100+lb’r a while later on a 10wt. If fly tackle isn’t up your alley, the rest of the time we have been throwing lures or bait at them. This produced another 8 jumped fish from 50-80lbs, with several more where we missed the bite. Congratulations to the 4 clients of mine who jumped their first tarpon ever during the past mont, the excitement was priceless! Menhaden and mullet are the top live baits lately, and the DOA Baitbuster has been my top lure. Then there were those days when tarpon acted like tarpon, shunning any and all offerings. August should be another great month for tarpon too, but as we get into September and the cooler water temps, these big fish will start to prepare for their migration south. Sadly I'll keep my pictures to myself this month as the cherry pickers have been out in full force.
It’s also one of the best times of the year to target GIANT Redfish in the Mosquito Lagoon, Indian River, and up around Ponce Inlet. This is perhaps one of the easier times to catch a bunch of redfish in the 15-40+lb range. Schools of big redfish are growing bigger on the flats as these fish prepare for their annual spawn. At Ponce Inlet hundreds of them are schooling on the bottom for the same reason. Now throw in the need to fill their bellies when the bait run gets started and you have a recipe for a good bite. Depending on their mood and location we have been targeting them on light tackle or fly. Lure choices lately have been a slow worked surface plug or a spoon. Live bait choices have been a live pinfish, pigfish, or mullet. We are also finding plenty of smaller redfish in the 3-10lb range up on the shallow flats. Dropping water levels have turned on the classic tailing behaviors we have on our flats. Light tackle anglers are having good success with topwater plugs and spoons early and then and soft plastic baitfish and shrimp presentations for sight casting once the sun is up. Pickier fish have been fooled with cut mullet and pinfish. Fly anglers are having the best luck with my hand tied crab, merkins, kwans and seaducers. We caught a bunch of redfish during the last month and its only going to get better.
Speckled Trout is one of the easier things to catch this time of the year. We can make them the entire goal of the day, target trophy size fish, fish in between spots for other things, or fall back on them when everything else is slow. The easiest way to target spotted sea trout in the summer is with a frisky pigfish or mullet, guaranteed to put a bunch of them in the boat. For my artificial and fly tackle enthusiasts we will take our share of trout working plugs, jerkbaits, soft plastics, and flies in and around active bait pods early in the morning. Most of the fish are in the slot range of 15-20 inches, with the occasional gator trout between 5-10lbs.
This is one of the best times to catch big Snook on Florida’s east coast. Big fish are schooling up around the Inlet, bridges, and beaches for the summer spawning period. Plugs, jigs, and bait worked along the jetty and nearby creeks or channels, will yield quality fish. Shark fishing is still steady around Ponce Inlet and on the beaches. Hammerheads, bulls, blacktips, and spinners are being caught in 40' of water. We’ve been finding Tripletail nearly everyday we want to look. A fresh shrimp, pigfish or small pinfish will draw a strike. A fun fish to spend some time searching for, most of them are 4-10lb fish. I also managed to locate a great Mangrove Snapper hole in Mosquito Lagoon. We've managed to pull a few out in the 2-4lb range, catching them on live pinfish and pigfish. Two unique experiences during the past month.One of the highlights was finding a baby Permit stuck inside one of my baitfish traps one morning. A rare find for Mosquito Lagoon, permit are generally found in S. Florida and the tropics. The second one was coming across a Manatee stranded on a sand bar in New Smyrna Beach. We spent about 30 minutes with her waiting for FWC to arrive so they could monitor and transport.
July was another busy one, over 100 charters done so far this year. Still some good openings in August, especially later in the month. Call now to reserve a date. Read my fishing charter page to view the top reasons why you should book your trip with me today. I look forward to fishing with you soon…386-212-4931.