Summer is here and there’s a lot of angling action in the bays and along the beaches! On shallow grass flats, you’ll find good numbers of speckled trout being caught, usually early in the day and late in the afternoon when it’s a little cooler. Small topwater plugs that skitter or chug have been producing good catches during low light hours and soft plastic shrimp or similar baits are good second choices if the fish are hesitant to eat on the surface.
Gag groupers, in season now through the end of the year, are one of the least targeted species in our bays. Gags are structure-oriented and, given the right type of structure, can be found in relatively shallow water. I typically target them in depths ranging from 15-50 feet with live baits; however, when I’m trolling plugs, I’ve found the sweet spot at 25-35 feet. Deep seawalls, bridge pilings, rubble piles and sunken boats left over from the storm are all good spots to target.
Mangrove snappers are plentiful around shallow water structures and chewing like crazy! I’ve been catching menhaden in the bayous and then using them to chum up the mangroves. The idea is to get them to move away from the structure so that they can be targeted with light tackle. Mangroves are a blast to catch once they get turned on and the quality of this year’s catch seems to be much better than that of recent years. And did I mention they make great tacos?
Redfish are widespread throughout the bays and along the beaches. As is usually the case, the slot-sized fish will be running in schools in the shallows. You may also find them hunkered down around docks, back up in the creeks or in marshy backwaters. If you like big fish, you’re in luck – there are bull reds all over the place. Redfish have been thick and hungry along the beach, in the pass and around bridges. Target them with large pinfish, live blue crabs or an assortment of artificial baits.
Last, but definitely not least, is the tarpon. If you want to catch a silver king in Panama City Beach, this is the month to do it because they’re here and will be migrating along our coastline for the next month or so. The tarpon is one of the most sought after and highly coveted fish that swims and, when conditions are perfect, they will eat live baits, soft plastics and flies. Let’s keep the peace on the water – if you see boats along the beaches that are set up to catch tarpon, kindly give those guys some room. It’s already hard enough to catch them in perfect conditions without boats constantly running over their heads.
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!