Hot fishing continues
It’s been a summer of plenty both in and offshore and the party will continue barring any major weather events. The hot snapper and grouper bite also continues but don’t forget that red snapper season closed this past Wednesday.
Be sure to hit the beaches on foot or by boat, and join in the fun as the summer snook spawn keeps going. Some really big females have been caught along the beach and in the passes this summer, with some of the largest specimens being taken on near-shore reefs, sharing the rocks with permit and barracuda, quite a few miles offshore.
Scan the skies over Charlotte Harbor to find working birds which may lead you to the tarpon that are feeding on large schools of bait. If you’re lucky you’ll see them rolling in the distance, backs reflecting the sunlight.
Get close with the trolling motor or by drifting, then throw a big pinfish or threadfin in the mix. These can be free-lined or suspended a couple feet below a small float. Keep these rods in the rod holders while casting soft plastic swimbaits to rolling fish. DOA’s Baitbuster and Swimming Mullet lures are go-to choices for this work.
Quietly continue using the trolling motor to fish the edges of the bait schools with your casting and live bait approach. If you’re fish aren’t in Boca Grande or the harbor than search the coast. Once found, set up and intercept them with baitfish or crabs, or your favorite lure or fly pattern.
Sometimes these coastal, travelling tarpon are in close to the beach, and others times, miles off the surf. Get in areas you’ve had success before, sit quietly and scan the waters, give it a bit, then move on.
Ready to try some grouper and BIG kingfish trolling in Boca Grande? I recently caught an episode of Addictive Fishing and the guys were having good luck trolling large, Mann’s Stretch Series lipped crankbaits and other even larger diving plugs for grouper along the drop offs in the 30 foot range last July. As a bonus, Capt. Blair caught a true whopper kingfish to close out the show. They were using 80 pound braid and 80 pound test fluorocarbon leaders to target these grouper and kingfish.
Family outings with overheated, impatient kids aboard, will find plenty of inshore action to keep everyone busy by drifting the grass flats in the 3-5 foot zone using popping corks with plastic shrimp or paddle tails dancing below them. The rest of the crew should be casting soft plastics on ultra-lite spinning gear. Trout, small sharks, jacks, and ladyfish, will join in the fun.
For more fast action get out the binoculars again and find your feathered friends, letting them lead you to jumbo schools of mackerel driving bait schools to the surface. This month Spanish macs will be found in the harbor, in and around the passes, to miles offshore. You can chase feeding schools or anchor up chumming them to the back of the boat for super-fast action.
Add a short piece of single strand wire to your main line, or go with 40 pound fluorocarbon leaders, for more bites.
Fly anglers get in on the fun with a hundred or more revved-up, feeding mackerel behind the boat, providing hit after hit. Learn to tie a very basic pattern to offer to these razor mouths and leave your expensive flies at home for more polite fish that won’t strip them down to the bare hook, after just one or two fights.
The heat is on so keep the cold water and wet neck towels iced down in the cooler and make sure everyone stays hydrated. Keep a careful eye on the very young and the well-seasoned for heat stress and don’t forget that if you are stopped on the water, make sure your engine cut off switch lanyard is connected to your person.
Capt. George Tunison is a Cape Coral resident fishing guide. You can contact him at 239-282-9434 or firstname.lastname@example.org.