This past week was a big transition week as we saw our big schools of tarpon departing for their long trek offshore to spawn. The big schools of fish we were seeing for the most part disappeared, and we were seeing fewer fish and in smaller schools.
The fish will return and will be cruising up in the bay and on the beaches in smaller schools. Same thing with the bait. The nice-sized bait we were enjoying netting up on the flats has been replaced with small fry bait that is too small to use right now. There are still some nice white bait around if you know where to find it.
Water temperatures are hovering around 84 degrees, so fish become lethargic at this time of year. All this information sounds depressing for someone wanting to get out and catch some fish. Not so. With these conditions, I like to shift gears and really slow things down because fish are like us humans in that they don't want to work all that hard to eat during the day. With fish becoming so lethargic during the day, you have slow everything down so they don't have to work. Cut bait fits this time of year perfectly. Grab a couple dozen shrimp and catch some ladyfish or chum up some pinfish and you have some great bait for nice redfish or big trout. Cut up a chunk of bait, put it on your hook and toss it as far up under the mangroves as possible and let it sit and be patient. Let the redfish sniff out your bait and come to it.
Looking for big trout, just find your deeper holes and toss your cut bait into the pothole and again be patient. This method can be deadly for reds and trout at this time of year if you have the patience. You will have to deal with the pinfish and some junkfish, but the payoffs in big redfish and trout can make you want to fish in this heat. As always, keep your eye to the sky and at the first sign of thunderstorms, do one thing, run for cover.
Capt. Mike Senecal
Anglers fishing with me on my Action Craft flats skiff, the Snook Fin-Addict out of CB's Saltwater Outfitters on Siesta Key, had very good action jumping and catching and releasing tarpon on spinning tackle in the coastal gulf in Sarasota at the end of the week of June 8.
A huge rainstorm before dawn on the morning of June 11 left the coastal gulf too rough to fish, but Cliff Ondercin, from Sarasota, and his dad, Dennis Ondercin, from Ohio, made up for it on June 12. With overcast conditions and a big swell to start, we weren't seeing many fish at all, just an occasional single here or there. However, tarpon were there in numbers, and we had great action jumping six tarpon, landing two and getting a few other bites by drifting live crabs or baitfish behind the boat. Dennis's first fish of the day taped out at a 34-inch girth 68-inch length for an estimated weight of 115 pounds. A great day!
Tarpon fishing in the coastal gulf should be strong. Catch-and-release sight fishing for snook in the surf with flies or DOA Lures should also be a good option. You may find trout, Spanish mackerel, blues or pompano on deep grass flats, particularly close to passes. Look for reds, snook and big trout mixed with mullet schools on shallow flats and edges of bars.
Capt. Rick Grassett
Snook-Fin Addict Guide Service, Inc.