August in Southwest Florida means hot, sticky days, plenty of rain and often thunderstorms. If you don't mind working around the weather, the fishing is often pretty good and competition from other boats is scarce.
Redfish are a prime target through the month. Look for good fishing on days with extreme high tides; this is the time to fish the baits deep under the shade of the mangroves. Floating a silver dollar-sized live pinfish or pilchard under a cork or soaking dead bait including cut ladyfish, pinfish and mullet are all excellent redfish baits. These redfish are tight under the mangroves on the higher stages of the tide, it's important to keep the bait as tight to the mangroves as possible. Cut bait often makes a better choice than live under the bushes, as redfish are scent feeders and fresh cut bait oozes plenty of stinky aromas. Large, mostly oversized redfish are bunching up for their fall run. Schools should get progressively larger as the month progresses. Look for a big push of water adjacent to bars or shallow areas as the schools work their way across the flats.
The mangrove snapper bite should continue strong throughout the inshore and near-shore waters. Look for them schooled up around structure with good water movement; this could include any of the gulf passes, docks and jetties, bridges, piers and natural or man-made reefs. For bait, live shrimp, pilchards, and small pinfish, plus small cut bait with a small circle hook and 20 to 25-pound fluorocarbon leader is a good choice.
Big redfish are a possibility any time over the summer. Corey Swetnam of Colorado caught and released this 34-inch fish while working around an oyster bar in Pine Island Sound fishing with Capt. Bill Russell.
July brought us some really good snapper fishing inshore - they are not only hard fighting for their size, but also one of the absolute best tasting fish in our waters. If you have visitors over the summer, snapper can make a great target and reward you with a fine dinner.
Tarpon have broken apart from their big pre-spawn schools and are likely to show up anywhere. They are most active very early in the mornings and the last couple hours of daylight. Look for them rolling when the water is calm. They will take a wide variety of artificial baits, and natural, both live and dead. Tarpon fishing just off the beaches has been good in recent weeks. Sharks of all sizes are roaming the waters throughout Southwest Florida. For the smaller blacktips, a live pinfish a couple feet under a bobber works great and for the big boys, fish a large chunk of mullet or ladyfish on the bottom or suspended under a balloon.
Snook fishing should continue to be very good on the beaches and gulf passes. They appear to be making a strong return from the devastating cold of 2010. The season remains closed until September, all snook must be quickly released.
Offshore, most anglers are targeting grouper and snapper, often making a long run of 30 miles or better for the larger fish. The best bet is to be on the water before sunrise and get back near shore early in the day ahead of afternoon storms.
Use the weather and tides to your advantage and fishing can be good during the hot month of August. Our inshore water temperature can change quickly, give us three or four days with bright sunny skies and the inshore waters quickly get hot and the bite can slow. A couple rainy days with limited sunshine and the water will drop several degrees; this can trigger very good fishing.
Have a safe week and good fishin'.