Well a bit of time between reports for me, but not due to lack of fish and fishing!! Was on the water nearly every day in June, and we got into pretty much everything the bay has to offer for game species. The weather is starting to heat up, and fishing is staying just as hot. Tarpon, big snook, big redfish, king mackerel, spanish mackerel, snapper, a few cobia, some trout...you name it and we pretty much hit it in June. As we are moving into July the typical yearly new hatch of bait is up on the flats, and in turn good size baits become a huge challenge to obtain. Check markers, and deeper edges for the areas that the small baits won't go, in order to get yourself bigger baits. As well as the water has warmed up considerably, don't be afraid to chunk out some pinfish or threadfins and wait out the lethargic fish. Here is 10 yr old Reid with his parents below with one of his multiple overslot redfish for his bday fishing trip. We used cut bait for these fish on Penn Spinfisher V 3500's with 1/0 circle hooks, on medium action Hurricane Redbone rods.
This year the bite for the silver king was quite solid, particularly around the big moons, but everyday they were thick and could be had with a little patience, timing, and of course some good fortune doesn't hurt trying to get one to the side of the boat. The schools of fish were thick throughout June and now early July from the Skyway, out to the beaches and passes. At times it is not shocking to see schools exceeding 500 fish easy moving in 8-12' of water...and what a site that is! We are using a variety of different methods this year to get some tarpon in the air and to the boat. Cut bait, live threadfins or whitebait, and pass crabs. You can fish pods in the passes, on the beaches, or drift them through the structure of the bridge with any of the baits mentioned above. Get up current of the fish and try to make sure the baits look as natural as possible is key. Here is a photo of my customer Byron's 100 lb class tarpon making a final jump near the boat. This fish was caught on a Penn Battle 7000 on a Shimano Terramar XXH 8' rod, with 40 lb braid, 60 lb leader, and an Owner 5/0 Mutu Light Circle hook using a live threadfin.
The snook bite around the spawn has been very good as well, just remember to be very gently with the big breeder fish and get them back in the water ASAP. Aside from the beach fish, there are plenty of big fish that I believe don't even leave the bay to spawn, and lately my customers have been fortunate enough to get our hands on some of those. The preferred bait has been live whitebait fished in areas with good tidal flow. In the beginning to middle of June the bite seemed to be insane, the big girls were eating everything in sight, but once they get a lot of pressure and the word spreads it seems the bite has slowed on the bigger fish. Beef up your leader a bit to 30 lb particularly if you are fishing in stained water, and this will give you a better chance of getting these 35"+ fish to the boat. Another option is well is to get a bit more stout rod to make sure the fish don't get you to cover. Here is a picture of John who was in visiting from Indiana with a 37" beauty caught on a live whitebait! He was quite excited, as was I since I got to reel in a 33" linesider at the same time...we had two rods out and doubled up on overslot snook!
The redfish bite has slowed with the warmer water temps. These fish got hit very hard in the spring and it seems they are much more reluctant to settle down and be fed. I followed a school yesterday for over a mile on the trolling motor with probably close to 300 fish in it and they just didn't want to stop moving. Your best bet in the summer months is try to pattern them, or to post up and get some cut bait out there to wait them out. They are a bit lazier with the 85 degree + water temps, but with good timing they will cooperate and you can get yourself some big trophy redfish! Here are brothers Cody and Cory who got out with their dad to do some fishing doubled up on big overslot redfish using the same setup as above.
All in all, what a great time of year to be fishing in Florida, bait is getting tough due to it's size, but nearly every species is lurking in our waters for the catching! Here are a couple more photos to enjoy of some awesome fish in the last few trips!