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On the Water: Changing things up a little during August

By Staff | Aug 5, 2020

Sharks of all sizes are abundant in local waters through the summer months, and a blast to catch on light tackle. This blacktip was caught and released on a chunk of ladyfish near Bokeelia while fishing with Capt. Bill Russell. PHOTO PROVIDED

Fishing or boating in Southwest Florida in August means dealing with the hot days of summer. Here are a couple options to cool down and possibly change things up a little.

If you just want to have fun and maybe do a little fishing while relaxing, then the beaches are a good choice, especially if you are fishing with the family. Good numbers of snook are roaming the surf throughout the summer and are a sight fishermen’s dream. Most snook along the beach will measure from 20 to 26 inches, but there are much bigger ones. Free-lined pilchards, shrimp, small pinfish, small white bucktail jigs and a variety of small white flies are top baits. Look for the fish right off the edge of the beach in the surf or near any type submerged structure. Remember, snook are catch and release only. Trout, mangrove snapper, whiting, mackerel, pompano and maybe a tarpon are a few of the other species you may hook into. Fish a little; swim a little, not a bad way to spend the day.

Summer days often give us flat, calm seas over the morning hours, perfect for short runs offshore. Our coastline is dotted with man-made artificial reefs, many well within sight of land and GPS coordinates available to the public. If you are an inshore fisherman, it’s a nice change of pace to make a short run offshore, especially during the heat of summer when the inshore water temperatures are so high.

One cool aspect when fishing around the reefs is you never know what you might hook into. Everything from snapper to giant goliath grouper call these reefs their home. To get the most out of the day you want an assortment of tackle that can handle the fish you target. Obviously with snapper you do not need super heavy tackle, the lighter the better for the best action. However, if you want to attempt to pull a big goliath grouper from his home to the surface, you will need an extra heavy rig, were talking 200 to 400-pound line or heavier. And many times, that’s not heavy enough.

In between snapper and goliaths there’s the possibility to hook Spanish and king mackerel, cobia, permit, barracuda, grouper, snook, sharks of all sizes, plus many other species. Many anglers fish several different line class rods at a time targeting more than one species.

Armed with a variety of baits is the best way to catch multiple species. Small baits like shrimp, pilchards and small pinfish are great for snapper and other bottom fish; larger live bait is often the ticket for a big barracuda, snook or gag grouper, and big bait, dead or alive, is the choice for goliaths. If you want to catch a permit you need live crabs, this is often the best bait for cobia as well. Anchoring up current of the structure with a quality block of chum is the best way to bring the action behind the boat.

Whatever type of fishing or outdoor excursion you choose, be smart, drink plenty of water and watch those thunderstorms. Also, make sure you are up to date on current fishing regulations, and what species are open and closed for harvest. Visit www.myfwc.com for current regulations.

If you have a fishing report or for charter information, contact Gulf Coast Guide Service at 239-410-8576 (call or text); on the web at www.fishpineisland.com; or via email at gcl2fish@live.com.

Have a safe week and good fishin’.

As a lifetime resident of Matlacha and Pine Island, Capt. Bill Russell has spent his life fishing and learning the waters around Pine Island and Southwest Florida, and as a professional fishing guide for the past 23 years.