by Capt. Greg Stamper
August is here, and the heat continues as we push through the hottest time of the year. With our water temperatures at their peak, finding good current is a big help. Stronger currents bring more oxygen to the fish and usually keeps them active. Based on tides some days will be better than others to fish. Days when low tide is mid-day means fish early or fish late. Low water from one to four PM will be extra hot with lower oxygen in the shallow water. Once the afternoon thunderstorms finish, things will be better. The rains help cool down the water and adds a bit of oxygen. Snook, redfish, trout, tarpon especially the juveniles, as well as pompano, and permit will be the targets for most of this month’s trips.
Snook fishing along our beaches is the standard around here, as long the winds are low. I certainly prefer winds from the Northeast clockwise to Southeast when fishing the beaches. Snook are a lot of fun when you can sight cast to them using an assortment of lures and baits. Slow rolling on a trolling motor within casting distance of the beach is the way to go. I prefer moving with the current as I sight fish, as most fish will be swimming at you. Generally, the snook will be within feet of the shore as they harass the schools of bait moving along.
Juvenile tarpon will be plentiful throughout Southwest Florida during August. When targeting these small tarpon, it’s best to start early. I like to be on the water at my spot before sunrise to take advantage of the first light. Usually, anglers will have about the first two hours to get them. I’ve had some days when the bite does last longer, however that’s usually when there’s overcast keeping the light levels low longer. These small tarpons are anywhere from 5 to 40 pounds and can be handled on the same rods that we redfish with. The tarpon will take a variety of baits from shrimp, whitebait, and crabs to a bunch of the small artificials.
When the tides begin to slow down that’s a great time to head to the local passes and cuts. These areas will have current first or last during the tide shifts. Pompano, ladyfish, mackerel, sharks and trout are the usual suspects. A simple jig tipped with shrimp worked aggressively mid water column should do the trick. On days when the ladyfish are thick you can always keep a dozen of them and head off for some shark fishing, as there will be plenty of them around up to eight feet.
Shark fishing is a fun time especially for anglers that want to catch something big. When targeting sharks, I’ll use heavy spinning outfits with 80-pound fluorocarbon leaders and 6/o circle hooks. Yes, we’ll miss a few as some of the sharks will cut through the leader, but you’d be surprised how many you land regardless. Now if you start getting bit off constantly using a small piece of wire is an option. Bulls, hammerheads, blacktip, gray reef, and spinner sharks are the usual suspects. Occasionally as we set up putting out our cut baits and begin chumming, I’ll have clients throw jigs for anything that’s around. Catching anything from mackerel to catfish causes commotion and vibrations in the water bring the predators in quicker. Another good practice is to have a buoy at the end of your anchor line. This is a good idea when you hook a beast as you can throw all the remaining line in the water and chase the fish. Likewise, once you’re done with the one you just caught you can come right back to where you were already chumming and pick up where you left off.
Capt. Greg Stamper