Hello SW Florida! It’s another fine day in our little slice of fishing paradise capital of the world. So is it hot enough for ya out there yet? Boy, August can be brutal which brings me to a little reminder for you. Late summer fishing can be hot as the weather at times but make sure to keep plenty of drinking water on the boat. Folks often underestimate how fast you can get dehydrated out there.
As far as our angling goes… the offshore grouper bite has been awesome for red grouper as well as gags. You may have to push out a bit further to find some cleaner water but well worth the extra fuel you might burn. On the other hand, mangrove snapper remain on the prowl and are very abundant on most of our locally published reefs. Snapper have very keen eyesight so if you are after these tasty adversaries you’ll need to downsize not only hook size but your line as well. Which, sadly to say…has a very small margin for error. Like I always say, it’s a balance between getting bit or getting broke. I run a larger 8 foot Penn 6500 Spinfisher V for my spinning outfit and spooled with 15-40 lb braid and for my conventional set I have Penn Fathom 40 spooled with 50 lb mono. For the snapper I use a light wire 2/0 or 3/0 circle hook and a minimum 3 ft of 20-25 lb fluorocarbon leader. Now here’s where a lot of tactics will differ with bottom rigs and I could go on for a while with them. But I think for all around simplicity the old school bottom style rig is the best all-around rig. But they basically all have the same common denominator. Keep the bait at a good distance from the sinker or weight. Snapper are a bit cunning and will rob you blind if you’re not playing an active role. The best way to catch these guys are to anchor on your favorite reef or “secret spot” and chum away to get them fired up. Then free line a 1-2 inch chunk of cigar minnow or threadfin down in that chum slick. Lots of factors are involved with getting this technique dialed in but once you do… its money!
For the inshore side of the house… My favorite right now is topwater. Artificial baits are easy to use and are reliable bait. I like the Heddon spook One knocker in the bone color. These topwater baits make for some explosive action to say the least. A few nights ago I had a snook come 2 feet out of the water when he struck that one knocker spook. That makes one show the pearly whites. Now one thing you gotta keep in mind is when you get one to bust that spook you’ve gotta resist the urge to do what I call “The Bill Dance Boo-yah maneuver “ aka setting the hook as hard as possible. Here’s why… first it’s a safety thing. You get crushed and you get all excited and as soon as that water boils behind that lure you snatch as hard as you can and all 6 of those hooks are approaching the boat at a very high rate of speed. Yikes! Also, take a look at the clarity of the water lately…not the clearest inside at the moment. When that fish is chasing the lure and you execute the B.D.B.M. that fish is sitting there with his bib on and empty dinner plate wondering where the heck my food just went. Point being, don’t jerk that bait away before you feel the weight of the fish. I’ve had redfish swat at my lure 5 or 6 times before they finally got a good bite on it. Trout are very similar and will follow a topwater for 10 or 15 yards before they get it. Snook on the other hand… they rarely miss. Now we all know that there are times when it’s just too darn hot to sit and fish… try picking up a fishing bow set up. I’ve had folks on board that say that’s just as fun as the fishing trip. And just maybe you’ll get as luck as my clients did last week and have a big cobia swim out in front of the boat!!