On the Water: June brings summer fishing conditions
June is the beginning of summer conditions on the waters around Southwest Florida. Warm sunny days with calm seas followed by afternoon thunderstorms is our typical weather pattern.
As far as fishing goes, there will be good days and bad ones — strong tide days should give you the best opportunities. With the summer heat the bite is often better early and late in the day, however, be aware of thunderstorms in the afternoons. If you have the opportunity, fishing after a late-day thunderstorm is often very good once the storms pass. However, we have very nasty and dangerous thunderstorms, do not put yourself or others at risk if lightning is in the area.
Tarpon fishing is in full swing throughout the month, fishing around the full and new moon tides may give you the best shot at conquering the silver king. Warmer water brings a lot of sharks to our coast, if you want to battle a big fish and avoid the tarpon crowds this may be for you. Anchoring up with fresh dead bait soaked on bottom while waiting in the shade with a cool beverage is relaxing and productive. Do not be surprised if you hook a tarpon though!
Catch-and-release snook fishing was great over the past few months and should continue into the summer. Look for them in the surf along gulf beaches, in and around the gulf passes and inshore around structure, shorelines, sand holes and oyster bars. Many of the large females spend the summer (spawning season) near the fast-moving water of the passes. Nearshore reefs in 40 feet of water or less hold trophy-size snook as well.
If you are looking to bring home dinner, snapper may be your best bet. Decent size mangrove snapper are moving inshore as well as the gulf passes. Larger mangrove plus grunts and other bottom dwellers are often plentiful in gulf waters within sight of land over hard bottom and reefs. Shrimp, squid and small pinfish or pilchards are candy to snappers, but you need to remember they have keen eyesight and easily become leader shy. If the water clarity is good, dropping down to 10- or 12-pound fluorocarbon leader may be necessary to fool the larger fish. A fresh block of chum also helps with the bite, especially offshore.
Also, gag grouper season reopens this month. If you are snapper fishing nearshore, it may be worth the time to drop a live bait down on a larger rig and stick it in the rod holder in hopes of hooking a gag. A few big gags are a possibility while fishing the gulf passes and bridges as well. The minimum size is 24 inches overall length — the further you fish offshore the better the odds of catching larger grouper.
Seatrout season reopens this month in our waters after an emergency closure from red tides kills a few years back. Bag limits and size have changed. Go to www.myfwc.com for updated regulations, and make sure it’s for our area of Southwest Florida. Snook, seatrout and redfish remains closed with catch-and-release only.
If you are not into hard core fishing and would rather enjoy a day with the family mixing it up, you have plenty of options. Kids of all ages just want to catch fish and fast action; snapper may be your best bet while bringing home some tasty filets. Drifting grass flats with live shrimp under a bobber should also keep the rods bent with everything from seatrout to pinfish. Keep the hooks small; remember it’s about action and catching.
As the mid-day heat sets in is the perfect time to head to one of our beautiful beaches for a swim and picnic lunch. This is also a great time to cool off while wetting a line and possibly get into some good catch-and-release snook action as schools are working up and down the surf. If a picnic lunch is not your thing, you can drop in to one of the many great island restaurants accessible to boaters for a fresh prepared meal and beverages. With tourist season behind us, local restaurants should have plenty of seats available.
With the lazy days of summer setting in, it’s a great time to just slow down and enjoy your day on the water. No real expectations, just take what the day gives you and appreciate the paradise we call home.
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 email@example.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.