Capt. Rick Davidson, Editor (firstname.lastname@example.org)
As Glenn Yarborough once said, “Baby the Rain must Fall”, but this month has been ridiculous. In spite of the waves of storms, first coming from the south and then from the west, there are still limits of scallops being taken, especially south of the river in the Tater Island area, which has retained clear water. If we can only get a week or so of our regular summer weather, things will get even better, because the scallops are definitely there. And so far, during this last week of the month, things have normalized, so we’re looking for more clean water in the next few weeks. Here are some pictures of some of our successful scallopers from this month.
In addition to the rain, the inshore fishing has been challenged by lots of floating grass, but those who were persistent found some nice fish, as you can see from these pictures. I had several trips that were washed out, but found some nice redfish when we could get around the grass. There were some excellent trout being taken.
Offshore, the big news was the opening of gag grouper season on the first. Braving the elements, there were some great gags taken. Kingfish were much more easily obtained and cobia, which have moved into deeper water, were found on offshore structure in varying depths. Regular catches of Florida snapper and black sea bass rounded out the offshore scene this month.
August Fishing Forecast
We’re going to assume that the weather stays normal through the summer. I expect the water to clear within several weeks, especially since there are areas right now with clear water. As mentioned, the Sink Creek/Tater Island area has been productive of both scallops and redfish as the water has remained relatively clear there, as well as further south west of the Pepperfish Keys. I would expect that the traditional scalloping areas to the north of the river, around Big Grass Island, will begin to clear within a week or so, especially on lower tides. You can get an up-to-the-minute scallop report by calling the Sea Hag Marina’s Ship’s Store. In terms of inshore fishing, redfish are relatively unconcerned by changes in water color or salinity. They will still be found around close inshore rocks and bars. With the tannin-stained water, however, it really makes sense to consider using cut pinfish filets fished around structure to maximize your chances of some good catches. If you really want to stick to artificials and cover more water, make sure you’ve got some weedless gold spoons or soft jerk baits Texas rigged to avoid the floating grass. Trout, on the other hand, are much more sensitive to changes in salinity. We’ve found some small trout in close, but the larger fish are much more likely to be in deeper water (3 to 10 feet). Fishing with Gulp shrimp on jigheads along the bottom has been productive, and some nice fish have been taken by free-lining live pinfish in deeper water, or fishing them under Cajun Thunder corks in 3 to 5 feet. Smell and sound are sometimes the key when the water is heavily stained inshore. Also consider heading to the offshore bars like Nine-Mile Bank and using some chum to find some Spanish mackerel, blue runners, small cobia….this is a great way to keep youngsters involved because in the right areas, there will be tons of fish around the boat, everything from small sharks to ladyfish to bluefish to mackerel. Fish jigs or spoons, or even chunks of cut bait, but make sure to use a small 12 inch piece of light wire leader to minimize cut-offs from sharks or mackerel. And throw out a live pinfish under a cork on some heavier tackle for the very real possibility of picking up a kingfish or a cobia.
Offshore, now that both red and gag grouper are in season, offshore trips are likely to be more productive. Because of floating grass, trolling is challenging, so most grouper trips will involve live pinfish or frozen squid or Spanish sardines. Another welcome change in August is that amberjack season is re-opening. Our area is blessed with lots of amberjack on offshore structure. Along with being a great fighting fish, amberjack filets when grilled fresh are among my favorite eating fish. Remember that you can get live and frozen bait, all the tackle you will need, scalloping gear and an excellent rental boat at the Ship’s Store.
Here are a couple of encouraging reports from Sea Hag guides:
Capt. Brian Smith www.bigbendcharters.com (352) 210-3050
Before I start the fishing report, let me share a few words… The weather this year has been unusual. Those of us on the NW Florida coastline have experienced strong winds and plenty of rain. Our S Ga. Neighbors have had too much rain. That said, fishing has been curious to those of us who ply the waters regularly. The fishing has been great, if you can adapt to the non-historical strange swing of where fish accumulate. It takes time and gas to break the normal routine and find the fish. For example, grouper are typically in deeper water this time of year for heat relief.
Some more preliminary words…regardless of the unusual weather, August is going to be hot and hot with humidity. Here are some solid tips to help you and yours be more comfortable while on the water. Start with plenty of ice and water. Everybody onboard needs to drink more than they normally would. A gallon of water per person needs to be available. Also, consider what would happen if the motor(s) fail; more water is going to be needed in that emergency. Soft drinks and, especially beer don’t hydrate the body. Keep folks hydrated, dehydration is a serious issue and happens quickly in August. The lack of perspiration and no urination are the first indications of dehydration. The onset of heat exhaustion comes quickly after that. Heat stroke is next, requiring professional medical relief. Prevention starts the days before. The excessive imbibing of alcohol drains the body; alcohol is actually a diuretic. It is best to save the partying for after the fishing trip. Soaking bandannas in cool/cold water and wrapping them around the head and neck cools the entire body. Soaking the head in any water cools the body. In other words, wet down your head and shirt to let evaporative cooling take place. I can testify, it feels good! Just because there is no swimming pool doesn’t mean you can’t get wet; douse your body or jump overboard for a few minutes to get cooled off. Don’t forget, fishing is supposed to be fun, make fun happen by keeping cooled off.
Offshore the fish are active in the 50-65 depths. Amberjack open back the first of the month and are abundant and large, enjoy the ride.
Capt. Steve Rassell lastcastras.com 352 3595902
Thanks to our governor scallop season opened 2 days early this year. The staff that work so hard at the Sea Hag must be going crazy with all the people calling, trying to change their reservations. I was booked for fishing charters for this weekend so little matter to me. Speaking of fishing—the flats are still alive with trout. If you plan a fishing trip during scallop season, hit the shallows early before the scallopers wake up. After about 10 am move to deeper water. I’m still catching some nice reds in the shallows also, with the Pepperfish area best for targeting reds. The trout are more plentiful to the north—but there are plenty south also. Sea bass in the keeper size are still slipping through the trap lines, which seem to be everywhere, but that’s where the crabs are. Still plenty of Spanish around the bars both north and south of the river and lots of sharks to be taken anywhere you stop. I still have a few days open for fishing this month—-call me if interested. WE ALSO DO SCALLOP CHARTERS.
Captain Tommy Thompson, Light Tackle Inshore Fishing 352-284-1763s www.flanaturecoast.com/capttommy
Summer means it’s hot–even at the crack of dawn. But that’s also the best time to find that slick water that’s just perfect for chasing redfish. Once 9AM rolls around, the sea breeze has started and the waters are busy with scallopers. Here are some photos from a recent trip with the Kreikemeier family from the Atlanta area. Young William caught a nice red, despite having broken his leg the week before the trip. Take a close look at the photos of him: you’ll notice it’s the same fish; different lens. It’s amazing what a wide-angle can do! Just watch out, as fingers can seem larger than they really are. Capt. Davidson and I enjoyed having the boys aboard our boats on this pretty July morning.
I’d love to have you aboard “Photo Opportunity” for a day on the water. I don’t take large crowds, as she’s a small flats skiff, but there’s lots of fun to be had. If you’re planning a trip to Steinhatchee with you own boat, you might want to get a copy of my book, The Saltwater Angler’s Guide to Florida’s Big Bend and Emerald Coast, at the Sea Hag’s Ship’s Store. It will give you lots of hints on fishing our area.