Summer has arrived with a bang, and there’s a lot going on this time of year. For one, you have to watch out for the storms. It’s most likely going to rain at some point every day. Sometimes there will be light rain, which is nothing serious. But other times, it’ll be big bad electrical storms, and you better head for shelter. You really have to watch what’s going on around you to stay safe.
Rain or not, it gets very hot this time of year. In the middle of the day, when it’s the hottest out, you don’t really want to do anything but sit in the air conditioning and relax. Well, the fish are doing to same thing. Of course, they don’t have a/c — but they’re going to the coolest area they can find and relax weather. Some of those places are under docks, under a big green bush with a lot of shade, or deep water with good current flow.
I like to start my day on the water very early so that I am fishing when it is the coolest. That’s normally when we have the best bite in summer. As the day goes on, the bite will usually slow down. You’ll still catch fish, but not as many as earlier. When evening rolls around, the fish will get more active again. Just remember, the temperatures that you feel more comfortable in are also more comfortable for the fish.
Another reason why I like to start earlier this time of year: I want to get off the water early before the storms roll in. It’s still early in our rainy season, so we may see storms any time of day. But the worst ones are usually in the afternoon, so if I can be back ashore by then, I will be.
Summer is the time of year for big fish (mostly tarpon and sharks). What about the light-tackle species like redfish and snook? So many anglers are targeting the big fish, but the other species are amazing right now because they’re getting hardly any pressure at all. The fish are not getting fished hard every day, and there are a lot fewer boats driving around on the flats. This is a golden opportunity.
The redfish and snook have been on fire. Whether you go out and catch pinfish and whitebait or throw artificial lures, it’s all working very well.
The best bite I’ve seen is around the greenest, leafiest trees where the most shade is. I will anchor up and give an area 20 minutes to prove out. A little chum is helpful to bring the fish out from under their shady spot.
A lot of the fish are hanging around on the outside of the flats, not way up in the backcountry. You’ve got to think about all the bait in the water. The fish are going to be closer to where they can get food easy. Go to where to food is, and that’s where you’ll find fish.
The trout fishing has been pretty decent, but not where we see them in cooler weather. I’m having to go deep. Water 4 to 7 feet deep around the ICW has been the best. I’m throwing live or Gulp shrimp suspended 3 feet under a float, or rigging a jighead with a jerkshad or a paddle tail and running it deep. The best bite has been early in the day.
Summertime fishing can be excellent. Remember to drink lots of water and watch out for the storms, but get out there and you can have a ball. This is the only time of year you can have a whole flat to yourself, so take precautions but enjoy it.
Capt. Karl Butigian lives, breathes and eats Florida fishing. He owns and operates KB Back Country Charters (KBBackCountryChartersFishing.com) on the waters of Charlotte Harbor and the Gulf of Mexico. To book a trip or for info, call him at 941-565-7325.