As we experience the high heat of summer, flats fishing has been very good in many parts of the bay – especially where the water is starting to clear. Although some tannic coloring remains, water clarity has improved tremendously and it’s possible to sightfish. If that’s your plan, then you’ll definitely want to look for an incoming tide when clean gulf water is pushing into the bay. When the water level starts to drop and dirty water from the bay near the Intracoastal Waterway begins flushing out, water clarity will suffer.
The speckled trout bite has been really good around points that get nice tidal flow over an undulated bottom. Big fish like to hang out in the deeper spots between sandbars or grass beds from which they can ambush shrimp, mullet, pilchards or glass minnows as the current sweeps them around the point. If you’re really stealthy via boat or on foot, you’ll often see several large trout laid up together or in very close proximity to each other. I like to target them with shrimp patterns or weedless swimbaits.
A natural presentation is the key to consistently getting big fish to eat. When I get just within range of my target, I cast up-current and allow the lure to drift naturally through the area where the fish are located. If you do it right and use the right lure, you have a great chance of getting them to eat.
The redfish bite continues to be excellent. I’ve been successful lately with a combination of live and artificial baits. When targeting deeper schools, I usually stop the boat and live chum with pilchards or menhaden to bring the schools to me. Once that happens, it doesn't really matter what you use to catch them but live bait will always get better results. When targeting fish in the shallows along shorelines or on skinny grass flats, I prefer to use the trolling to cover lots of water and look for spots likely to hold fish such as areas of flooded marsh grass, points on the outside of a small ditch or creek, sandbars, potholes, areas of broken bottom and any other transition points. I generally use topwaters or soft plastics on a light lead when fishing these areas.
If you’re just looking for action, there are a lot of bait balls out in the middle of the bay and any one of them could have a ton of hungry fish on it. It pays to stop and throw a few different lures into the school and see what happens. Start with small shiny spoons or plugs worked very fast for the more aggressive fish and also drag a bigger jig through to see if any bull reds or tarpon are hanging out underneath.
As always, if you have questions about what’s biting, how to catch them or want to book a trip, give me a call or shoot me an email. Tight lines!