by Captain Greg Stamper
Crazy that we’re half way through the year, and smack dab into our summer. July fishing has a theme that we’ll probably stick with us through mid-September and that’s “Start Early”. The afternoon heat can make for some rather tough times when hanging around islands with no breezes. It’s just flat out hot once you get to about 2pm around here. With that said as we get further into the month, the water in the back bays becomes a bit warm pre-thunderstorms.
Yep, thunderstorms become a big factor and often dictate what’s going to happen next. There are good parts about having thunderstorms however. One good thing is we don’t see too much of them until the sea breeze takes over in the mid-afternoon, so you can factor that into the days fishing plan.
Another good thing about the thunderstorms, is that they cool things off and hopefully keep the water somewhere in the high 80’s. The bad part about thunderstorms is you need to get off the water and take shelter as things can be quite dangerous when they push through. Today’s phones or boat electronics can warn you when lightning is approaching, so they’re a great tool as you’ll need time to get somewhere safe.
So, what are we going to target down here in Southwest Florida? Tarpon, snook, redfish, sharks, trout, jacks, permit, and snapper are a few of what we’ll be targeting all based on time of day and weather outlooks. The mid-afternoon low tides make things tougher as the water gets rather warm pre-storms. Working the stronger tides will help as the water temperatures increase. Warm water has less oxygen, so moving water brings more with it, thus making fish more active. Get good strong tides early in the mornings and “Fish on”!
We say, when living in Southwest Florida, if you don’t like the weather, just wait an hour. So, fishing after a thunderstorm can be excellent. The rain these storms bring, cools things off and gets fish giddy. Redfish on the open flats are one of my favorite targets just after a good storm goes through. Often, you’ll see a few degrees difference post storm and that’s all it takes to get the bite going again. Snook that aren’t on the beaches can be found moving to creek mouths and areas where water drains into, as small bait fish get flushed out and are easy pickings. Snook fishing can be epic for the next few months so they’ll be in play for awhile.
Tarpon fishing shifts a bit in July, even though we still find big fish patrolling our beaches and nearshore waters. Most of the fish during this time of the year are locals. This means the big spawn is over and things get bake to the standard quo. We’ll find a lot more juveniles in the backwaters usually between 10 to 40lbs milling around in small schools. When targeting these small fish, you can throw fly’s, small artificials, and whitebaits under a cork, they all work well. With tarpon in July the early bird usually gets the worm, or the bird that doesn’t sleep as the midnight to sunrise hours can be fantastic.
The nearshore wrecks and reefs are another option as snapper, cobia, permit, grouper and an assortment of random species can be caught. There’s lots of bait this time of the year so the fish are happy. There’s no telling what you may run into while cruising around from place to place. It’s not uncommon to see random cobia moving around or big sharks cruising. So, when your moving to another area keep your eyes open as you may get a lucky surprise.
Capt Greg Stamper