Fishing this summer has been good! Several days during the week of 4th despite big tides good catches of redfish in all size ranges, black drum, seatrout and flounder. Are conditions favorable to fish? The answer is often a little tricker than looking at a tide chart. Although a tide chart is usually a good place to start it can be a little misleading. If you’re waiting for prefect conditions you’ll likely never fish. In short, fish the conditions. For seatrout seek places with good drifts, clean water, bait and perhaps seeing the fish as well. A good drift is about the speed of a slow walk. Not too fast, not too slow. Both incoming and outgoing tide can effective tides to fish. A good of thumb is in about half an hour if you haven’t caught some good fish or had some good bites move on. Fish have tails. Just because the conditions look promising does not mean you’re going to catch fish there today.
What to look for. When spotting bait. Look for bait that’s being pushed to the surface. This can mean there are predator fish under the bait. Small bait such as a small menhaden flicking to the surface can mean small blue fish or seatrout. Any bait being forced to the surface is worth a few casts. Birds working the bait is another great indicator of fish. The larger the bait, the larger the fish. Large schools of large menhaden, pogies, might indicate jacks, black tip sharks, spanish, tarpon and other predator fish. Bait can be a strong indicator of fishing success. When possible fish the bait!
Summer time fishing usually focuses around the barrier islands. Flounder can be found along the banks of sandy bottom creeks and rivers close to the sounds. Likewise the best seatrout bite is usually close to sound or beach. Redfish action typically slow down during the dog days of summer. Reds are still on the flats but overlook fishing deeper water for redfish during the summer. Small reds are about 10 to 11 inches now. These little guys are just big enough to take a bait and bend your rod. When you’re into small reds catch a few and move or anticipate on going through a lot of bait. If you catch one you’re likely to catch a bunch!
Large bonnet head sharks are in local waters. Right now it’s typical to see a bonnet head pinning shrimp and crabs against the bank A shark is an opportunist feeder. Feeding on almost anything in front of it. It’s common to hear of a shark eating someone’s seatrout while they were reeling it in. While trout fishing we had a line that just broke. Likely a shark cut the line while swimming through the water with its mouth agape. As the unattached float is floating off a fish hits and hooked himself. In a few minuets we recovered the float only to find a fish head attached to the hook. A shark subsequently hit the hooked fish. In short there are plenty of sharks in local water! This week we seen mostly bonnet heads and small black tips about two feet or so. Different weeks different sharks show up. As the male sharp nose became scarce larger females showed up. Bonnet head and black tips have been consistent. A few weeks male atlantic sharp nose sharks were everywher. Anticipate large fish on days when large bait pushes in. Acres of bait being worked by pelicans can mean large fish are on the rampage. Often strikes are immediate and powerful! So much for waiting for hours for a bite. It all about the bait.. When bait is present it’s likely predator fish wont be far behind.
Often I’m asked what’s the best time to fish a drop. It isn’t a one size fits all answer. The norm would be hour and half on either side of the tide. Trust me this sacrosanct. This can vary one day to the next. The safe bet is to make sure you have enough water to float your boat. As you spend time on the water look for patterns and try to duplicate it other places. Like the birds and sharks be opportunistic. If a rip set up try fishing it you might be rewarded with some nice trout. Look for entrance and exist place in the grass that redfish will likely travel. Fish are creatures of habit. It’s about finding what they like and giving them what they want. One fishermen today said he’s catching plenty of trout. His secrete get away from the people. Basically this fishermen is fishing less fished water. Sounds pretty simple but actually it’s very smart. Conventional wisdom says fish where the boats are. A fisherman who catching fish says get away from the boats. You be the judge.
Hope this of help! Good Fishing! Capt. Jack McGowan
Practice catch and release!