As we roll into the month of August, you can truly feel the dog days of summer in Southwest Florida. You can count on just about every day being hot and sticky. This is a quiet month for anglers but there are good fishing possibilities on the water.
Two of the best fish to target are redfish and mangrove snapper, neither seem to mind the heat to much. In fact, fishing for both should improve as the month progresses. Look for snapper around structure including bridges, piers, docks, rock ledges and under the mangrove shorelines. Areas with a good tide flow will hold larger fish. All of the gulf passes are also great snapper grounds.
The best time to hunt for redfish is early in the morning on the shallow flats while the water is the coolest, then under the shade of the mangroves on the higher tides. Cut bait often out-fishes live bait for reds this month. Toward the end of the month the larger fish will begin to bunch up in their fall schools. It's common to locate several hundred in a pack pushing down a bar edge on the rising tide. Schools will also show up inside the gulf passes on the falling tide.
Shark fishing should be good this month. This 5-foot bull shark was caught in 5 feet of water along the eastern shoreline of Charlotte Harbor by Shelby Russell on a summer evening fishing trip with her father, Capt. Bill Russell.
As in the past months there are plenty of fish to give steady action over the deeper grass flats. The incoming tide is usually the best time to catch a variety, including trout, mackerel, ladyfish, bluefish and small sharks in depths averaging 5 to 10 feet. It's also a month where tarpon can show up anywhere; don't be surprised if a huge tarpon slams a small trout bait.
If you are looking for something with a little more fight, bull sharks will be all over inshore from the flats to the deeper channels. Look for mullet schools along shorelines on the flats and chances are good there will be more than one bull shark around the perimeter of the school. Mullet are getting large and fat as summer progresses, and they are easy to spot jumping and pushing water. Some of the best areas to fish for the bulls are the finger channels that lead to the shallower flats on days with good moving water. If you are dead bait fishing on bottom, expect to catch some big stingrays and again don't be surprised if you hook up with a tarpon.
The best snook fishing will continue on the beaches and in or near the passes. Please try to handle all snook with care while unhooking and releasing and if a dolphin shows up to snack on the exhausted fish when released, please move on and don't feed them.
Offshore, anglers should find good-sized mangrove snapper over ledges and structure. Large gag grouper have been reported by divers and anglers beginning in depths of 60 feet, and deep trolling lures are a good way to score a grouper dinner closer to shore.
A few king mackerel are still around, and farther offshore amberjacks will be over structure with a high relief.
The best advice for August fishing, go early to beat the heat, take plenty of water to stay hydrated and when it gets hot, stop off at one of the beaches and cool off with a swim. Or better yet, combine fishing and swimming together, try wade fishing to stay cool.
Have a safe week and good fishin'.