Wow… some of the best fishing I've experienced all year has occurred over the past few weeks!
On the flats, the speckled trout and redfish bites have been killer lately – especially on live pilchards, menhaden or threadfins. If you want to throw plugs or other artificial baits that require the fish to chase, it's very important to get started early while the water temperature is still cool. Although it goes against conventional thinking, I’ve found the best action coming in the middle of the day by targeting big, deep potholes (3’ – 8’) on shallow, clear water grass flats where the fish tend to stack up during the hottest part of the day. The water at the bottom of these potholes is usually a couple of degrees cooler and that’s where a lot of fish seek refuge. I usually approach to within casting range of the pothole, deploy my shallow water anchor system and start throwing jigs. If the fish won’t eat a jig but you know they are there, then spend a little time chumming with pilchards or menhaden and they’ll usually become a little more cooperative. When using live baits, be sure to tie on quality circle hooks so that after a good fight you can safely release the fish for another lucky angler to catch.
In the bays, there are still lots of mangrove snapper to be caught along a variety of structures. I find that the most consistent bite is in water up to 15 feet deep but, if the structure is vertical and comes up near the surface, then they can be in much deeper water. I like using medium-sized pilchards to get them chewing and then switch to pinfish to catch some of the bigger fish. Although it’s tough to wear them out with artificial baits, I do have success with jigs, small twitch baits and jerkbaits. In addition, I’ve been catching some really nice flounder when fishing on bottom.
Out in the middle of the bay near schools of baitfish, there is no shortage of action from several different predatory species. Bluefish, Spanish mackerel, jacks, sharks and bull reds can be found feasting on the massive schools of red minnows. The bluefish, mackerel and jacks are all fairly easy to catch because of their aggressive nature so throw something small and shiny through the school and reel it back as fast as you can. Lipped baits, spoons and even topwater plugs will all get crushed. The bull reds tend to hang out underneath, so a heavy jig allowed to sink below the mayhem is your best shot at getting hooked up on one.
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.