By Neil Taylor and capmel.com kayak fishing staff contributors
Around the state:
Heat, humidity and humongous fish: July has the goods. The kayak angler will tell you that they are in love with and hate the month of July for various reasons. July is a time to fight storms, night and day, in trying to get in kayak fishing trips. The intense heat and convection make for interesting outings but the anglers with a good plan are going to cash in on what the seventh month has to offer. If you can get it done in July, you are utilizing some skills. Will it be a month of tropical weather activity? We will see. The rains we have had statewide have erased the drought that winter brought. The rain, beneficial to fishing pretty much everywhere, the rain has been good to have.
Around Tampa Bay region-
The seventh month of the year, July: A time of heat and thunderstorms in the Tampa Bay area. Enjoy success by switching techniques to “beat the heat” and find fish in their best feeding patterns. Pre-dawn outings lasting until 9 AM are a great option. Another is trying out the sundown fishing, going well into the night. In addition to the inshore species mentioned below, expect great opportunities for flounder and pompano this month. Pompano will be at the bridges inside Tampa Bay and flounder should make a strong showing around area passes, bridges and deeper sand patches.
Much attention here is on the decision to reopen snook to harvest. Years later: The shock waves are still being felt. With so many of the people who are north of the Skyway bridge seeing so few redfish, the decision is not sitting well. Taking the overall look at the picture, there are some reasons to be encouraged about the future but right now, the action of opening this species to harvest is basically the most unpopular ruling I have ever seen. The people who want this fishery to be strong again and passed on to future generations do not care for the lack of concern by the ruling body to not even consider the input of the professionals who make their living on the water. Our future: The fish I would be taking people to catch for the next 20 years: Dead on dinner tables. Terrible management.
Said one guide several years ago: “These people proposed it last year too. This is no surprise but if they put it through, maybe it is time to get a whole new set of scientists and get rid of this Commission.” Quote from another popular guide, “I would be fine if they never reopened it. Imagine how this fishery would respond to that. But if they were truly trying to manage this species back to health, they would have left them closed three years longer. Snook are not in great shape. The people who are claiming they are, the same people who are pounding the few fish that we have. Feeding many to the dolphin. Nice job. One bad freeze or red tide: Snook may cease to exist in Florida.
Trout: Seasonal slowdown, you will still catch them just less likely to catch big ones. Redfish are OK. Not as good as they once were, they suffer from the effects of added activity with more people living here.
Drink lots of water. Watch for thunderstorms but enjoy July fishing in the Bay. NT
In the Southwest “Suncoast” area of Florida, Steve Gibson with Southern Drawl Kayak Fishing:
We look for improved beach snook action as the fish go into post-spawn mode. Shark action should continue good in southern Tampa Bay. We
also look for good redfish, snook and spotted seatrout in Tampa Bay. Closer to
home, spotted seatrout and redfish should be the best bets in Sarasota bay.
Night snook fishing should be good around lighted docks on the outgoing tide.
It’s hot in Florida in July, so a night snook trip is a good way to beat the
heat. We love to combine a day/night trip by starting two or three hours before
dawn around lighted docks and then heading out into the bay to get the early
bite and first light.
The East coast of Florida
The super low water levels all over the Lagoon system have made it easy to find fish concentrated on the flats just as you start getting into 1 -3 ft of water quite a ways from the shoreline but still in the same areas as you had success in last month. Redfish and trout will be cruising in search of food in less grassy areas like the Banana River where locations like the Mosquito Lagoon, you will find them tailing, digging for crustaceans and worms. Water clarity is getting better in the Mosquito Lagoon with all the rain but the floating grass will make it hard to use topwater baits. Snook can be found in many areas now. For all 3 fish, depending on location, use topwater plugs in bone, mullet or white with a red head and then switch to submersible soft plastics rigged weedless when the pressure rises mid-day. 12 Fathom Fat Sam 3 inch mullet or Buzz tail in Arkansas glow, Glow Shrimp, or New Penny rigged on a 1/16 – 1/8 oz 3/0 Edje Joe weedless hook or 1/8 oz Joe jig will work best. As the sun heats up the flats, look for trout and reds in waters 3 – 4 feet. Soon the huge schools of redfish will be finished spawning and will begin to disperse into smaller schools but you still have time to catch that trophy red. Big black drum and bull redfish can be found in 4 -5 ft waters. Tossing a chunk of crab, mullet or lady fish on a 4/0 circle hook will work best.
In the Big Bend of Florida’s Panhandle, Robert Baker at TnT Hideaway on the Wakulla River: http://www.tnthideaway.com/ . If you are going to be in Panama City, stop in and see Brad and his staff at Sunjammers: http://sunjammers.com/ The guys are reporting great action throughout the region for trout, redfish and flounder. Kingfish, cobia and pompano are also options for the kayak anglers.
In Northeast Florida: It is trout and redfish. Good numbers and pretty good action. Don’t forget we have flounder up here too! Big flounder. Most of the fish have been caught early and action tailing off mid-morning.
In the greater South Florida area:
Heat, bugs and kayak fishing. The Everglades, Flamingo anglers are planners. But do it, it can be worth it. Get a bug suit and load up on repellent, we’ve got great action down here. Tarpon are a great bet. Around the rest of the region, you can pick your poison. Beware of stormy weather on extreme trips. Kayak anglers have faced some perilous situations, something that is best to avoid. But the deep water game is addictive.
The tip of the month:
The rules of summer. Kayak Fishing Skool attendees will recite them to you. “Six to Ten” and “300 Yard Rule”. Combine the rules and you probably have a winning equation. Six to ten rule: Work your kayak fishing trade from six to ten in the morning or six to ten in the evening. The 300 yard rule: Stay within 300 yards of a major pass and moving water. This will be helpful for the next few months. Lower light conditions win but so does staying near higher oxygen, faster moving current.
Need help learning how to kayak fish? Hire one of our guides on staff for your region and take advantage of their knowledge and sharpen your own skills!
Get out and into the action but as always: Be careful out there!
Neil Taylor, www.capmel.com site administrator