by Capt. Greg Stamper
August is here and we’ve got lots of options to fish for in Southwest Florida. Fishing is usually best early in the mornings before it gets too hot. Part of August is that bait options are plentiful, so if you have a plan on what you want to catch finding the right bait should be easy. Pilchards, threadfins, pinfish, crabs, and shrimp are all plentiful through August. Tides, winds, and weather are the deciding factors as afternoon thunderstorms will be common just about every day.
The stronger the tides the better, you need moving water to catch fish especially as it gets hot. Windy days will give savvy anglers options of what sides of islands to fish on, where they’ll need to run to for the most options, and sometimes the opportunity to fish specific spots that will be awesome on certain wind directions. Likewise, on low wind days I’ll blow off the backcountry fishing and go out front nearshore fishing.
Tarpon fishing will be a continued target both in the backcountry and along our beaches. The juvenile tarpon is plentiful this time of the year. Tarpon can be found regularly around or bridges, near the beaches chasing schools of bait early, and in the back bays usually where it’s a bit deeper than the surrounding flats. We’ll chase them usually early in the morning or late in the evening using everything from small white baits, artificial lures, all the way up to live ladyfish.
Snook fishing is great during the summer, we’ll continue to find them along our beaches within feet of the shorelines, on our wrecks and reefs patrolling the edges, and in the backcountry laying up under the bushes as it gets hotter. They’ll be in schools usually, and when the waters clean are a blast to site cast. Moving around slowly on the trolling motor looking for those big fish cruising is a blast in the Summer. Seeing snook up to 40” isn’t uncommon this time of the year and well worth putting a few hours of a trip toward.
Redfish, trout, and snapper are typical backcountry August fishing targets. As redfish will be found often in the same areas as the snook and snappers, we do fish them a bit different however. Spreads for reds works out great as it gets hotter. We’ll put out an assortment of baits on jig heads or knocker rigs and keep the lines close to structure, shorelines, and potholes. By varying the baits you’ll eventually figure out what their most likely to eat and where that given day.
Fishing our passes and cuts when the tides slow down can be a saving grace during August. These cuts and passes will have the last and first of the moving water and that’s where you’re going to get a bite during the tough times. Pompano, trout, snapper, etc… can be found in these areas. Jigs are my favorite rig tipped with a piece of shrimp and worked quickly. You’ll have to put some time into figuring out where the fish are hunkered down, but it’s worth it when you find a bite.
Lastly shark fishing can always save the day during the summer. We’ve got all kinds in all sizes, from hammerheads, bulls, blacktips, all the way down to nurse sharks and bonnets. Sharks love a little chumming to get them going and once there enticed they will eat just about anything. Using a simple 5/o circle hook with a nice chunk of ladyfish usually gets it done. I don’t even use wire as I’ve found a freelined bait rarely gets cut off when using 50# leader for sharks up to 8 feet.
Capt. Greg Stamper