After Tropical Storm Debby moved away from our Gulf waters the skies cleared and seas calmed giving us some beautiful days to close out the month of June. As we head into the month of July we should have more good weather days to target fish both inshore and offshore including gag grouper that are back in season.
Look for redfish under the mangrove shorelines on the higher stages of the tide, most are singles or pairs averaging twenty to twenty-seven inches. Live silver dollar size pinfish or pilchards tail hooked on a circle hook and floated under a popping cork make great baits, one inch thick ladyfish or mullet steaks are also a good choice. If you don't get any takers in five minutes make a move, many times just a short move can make all the difference. You can also expect to catch a few snook and mangrove snapper under the mangroves while looking for redfish. Stalking redfish in the shallows will be best near first and last light, look for days with a low incoming tide during this time to better your chances.
Trout and Spanish mackerel are still in Charlotte Harbor near Bokeelia, and Pine Island Sound from Cayo Costa south to the Sanibel Causeway. Look for the clearest water possible for the best action, at times that's easier said than done. Captain Gary Clark reports action with trout, mackerel and small sharks on the Gulf Side of the Sanibel Causeway near marker 6, and over grass flats west of the fish shacks near Captiva. .
Mack Luten of St. James caught this twenty-six inch redfish on a live pinfish under a bobber in Matlacha Pass on Fridays trip with Captain Bill Russell.
Tarpon are still around the Harbor, off the beaches, and in the Passes. Most of the out of town guides and anglers have went back home, this should put a lot less pressure on the tarpon remaining in our waters. Get out at first light on calm mornings and look for fish rolling, tail slapping or free jumping. Most anglers attempt to get well ahead of the moving fish without spooking them and place a live bait that may include a small crab, thread herring, or pinfish in their path. Dead bait fishing is a good choice and way more relaxing, this can be done any time of day and is a great choice after the breeze kicks in and sight fishing becomes difficult. Fresh baits including ladyfish, mullet, and shad worked great. With the tarpon you should also expect to hook into sharks on the cut bait.
Sharks are plentiful anywhere you choose to fish and are often a good option on the hot days. Hammerheads and blacktips are often hooked off the beaches by anglers chasing tarpon. Inshore, lemon sharks to seven feet were caught and released from areas near the power lines on the Sanibel side in the southern Sound and Punta Blanca Island in the upper Sound. Lemons, blacktip and bulls can be caught throughout our inshore waters. Look for them along feeder channels that run from the deeper water to the flats in the Sound and cruising the outside or deep water side of the many sand bars that border San Carlos Bay, Pine Island Sound, and Charlotte Harbor.
Finally, gag grouper are back in season again. There have been lots of reports the last few months of plenty of big gags caught and released, now a few can come home for dinner. While most of the action well take place a good distance offshore there is a good chance to bag a few around the passes or under the Sanibel Causeway. Tarpon fishermen were reporting daily catches of grouper, and nice ones, that were taking their tarpon baits in the passes. Visit www.myfwc.com to get the current grouper regulations before hitting the water.
Tropical Storm Debby cooled our water down a god bit, if we get into our summer rain pattern this will help to keep it cool. You could really tell the cooler water, the snook and redfish we caught after the storm were full of spunk and energy. Once the water temperatures begin rising look for the fish to be the most active early or late in the day or on the strong incoming tides. Make sure to keep an eye on the sky, especially after noon, it's that time of day when a thunderstorm can pop up quick.
Have a safe week and good fishin'.