by Capt. Greg Stamper
We move into July understanding what has happened in June. Rains will continue, as our summer pattern is in full swing. Back Bay fishing will continue to be an early morning thing, the nearshore bite happens until the strong westerly winds start, and offshore fishing will be great for those out past 100 feet of water. It will be hot, so get out early am, or fish in the evening.
The backcountry fishing is very good this time of the year, but you will need to keep a few things in mind. First, our water is very warm. Proper fish handling is important with hot water. Do not have a fish out of the water for very long, and please revive them well before releasing them. Secondly, it is hot out so start early or wait till the evening to fish. Third, keep your eye on the sky as afternoon thunderstorms are vicious around here, and that can be dangerous.
The rain does keep things consistent for fishing patterns. Mouths of rivers, creeks, and even drainage areas will be fantastic. All those little morsels flow as the local rains drain out. Tarpon, especially the juvenile size becomes a great early morning or evening target. The juvenile tarpon will range from about 10 to 40-pounds. Snook fishing is full speed now and the river mouths are always a good place to find some. Fishermen that are on our local beaches can also fish for snook along the shorelines. On days when the water is clean, you can sight fish them. Pick the beaches where you know the wind will be to your back or somewhat close when looking at the water.
Offshore has been fantastic last month. Those fishing deep last month caught red snapper from 120 feet plus regularly. One of the benefits of being out that far, i.e., 45-70 miles from Fort Myers Beach, is the bycatch. This month target gag grouper, porgies, African pompano, and several different snappers when bottom fishing. Should you choose to get back out into 150 feet plus after you catch your red snapper limit, then tunas, Mahi, and wahoo will also be options.
Nearshore is a wind game, but usually not till after 2-3 pm. Typically, you will have east winds early, calm winds midday, and then the sea breeze takes over before the storms are unleashed. Those that want tarpon and permit will have no problem catching them this month. An occasional cobia will be added to the mix, with a few smaller-sized snappers. Tarpon will be patrolling our beaches from Naples to Tampa regularly all month long.
On a side note, freshwater fishing during the rainy season can be very good after heavy rains. Spillways are a great place to start. Often in Southwest Florida, we have a cross-over of freshwater and saltwater fish hanging out together. When you fish the first few days as a spillway starts dumping water, tons of small baitfish, bugs, worms, freshwater shrimp, etc… fall over them. The predators will be sitting directly under the spillways eating.
Capt. Greg Stamper
Fort Myers Beach