Fish are looking for cooler, cleaner water and shade these days so the early angler gets a bite, but the late riser gets a boat ride.
If you're sore and achy and have lost the fire to get out of bed at 4 a.m. or can't stand fishing another day in a typical July-August South-west Florida inferno, then night fishing may be your answer. Many true trophy snook hunters only fish at night during the hot water period.
Make your choice as the fishing is as hot as the weather. Find a high tide at the passes and hit the beaches for snook and tarpon. Watch for rolling tarpon in and along the passes and up to a mile or so off the beach.
Capt. George Tunison
Outgoing tides at the passes funnel millions of small critters from inland waters trapped in the tidal flow out to the open Gulf and fish line up for this free smorgasbord, mouths and eyes facing into the current looking for that easy meal.
Big and powerful tides occur with full moon phases and the fishing can be on fire if your timing is on. Casts down current and retrieved up and against the tidal flow are generally wasted casts.
It's 7 a.m. and you've arrived (very late) at the fabled "spot of spots." Now don't go charging in casting blindly. Stop and survey the situation. What's the current doing? Direction? How fast is it flowing? Other boats or shore anglers? Where do I need to position the boat and is that position dangerous? Is this the right bait or lure for this current speed?
Think like a fish. Your 40-pound snook will be positioned facing into the flow, partially behind or in an obstruction, depression, hole, any current break to conserve energy, darting out at the last moment to nab its victim then quickly back to its hide out.
Now, you have pieces of the puzzle to work with. Now that you are an informed angler and you're sure of your spot and have picked the right lure, only then position the boat to make the best possible and natural looking presentation. You know where the fish should be, you know which way she's facing. Get into position and cast, not once and move, but multiple times to the same spot.
Have confidence, maybe switch to another color or change lure styles, but have confidence in your decision and keep casting.
Last week after six casts to a spot that always pays off for me when the current is ripping it was snook 6, me- 0.
The tide was extra strong that day so I quickly switched my 1/4-oz. lure for the 1/2-oz. model. The next 10 casts produced 10 hits with seven solid hookups. The snook school had dropped down lower to avoid the heavier main flow and would not come up to my lightweight bucktail while crushing the in-your-face deeper model.
Pass fishing can be dangerous and you can easily lose your boat or your life in heavy current flows. Much of the best fishing at times occurs along the rocky edges of the pass and a wrong decision on positioning or your motor quitting can put you in immediate life threatening danger.
Never fish the passes without life jackets on. Stored away under the seat, suntan lotions, and salami sandwiches does no good when you're thrown from the boat into the fast moving tide. No swimmer can move against it and you can easily die, very quickly. Plus, think of those 1,000-pound hammerheads that are also there fishing this time of year.
The offshore bite is strong, weather permitting. Getting out early and home before lightning is the Southwest Florida drill.
Big trout on predawn topwater plugs. Redfish eat cut ladyfish, pinfish, and shrimp in the cool bushy shade as soon as the sun rises.