So the dog days of summer are here and one thing that can be said for sure is that it is HOT!!
Another thorn in our side is the red tide bloom that has been here. Not gonna sugar coat it but, it’s been rough on our waterways these past few weeks. Despite what some “charter captains” would have you believe, every fish in the Gulf of Mexico isn’t dead. There are good guides that run trips every day and catch fish every day. It may not be the easy carefree fishing that some would like, but we are still catching plenty of fish. We may have to burn a bit more fuel than we’d normally burn, but there are still fish to catch.
There are many ways that spending time out on the water can be fun. This time of year gags and red grouper are being caught on live pinfish, squirrel fish, squid, Spanish sardines or any cut bait that you can get down to them. Getting out past the bad water is key. Right now you can still catch plenty of fish in the 45-50 foot range. I like to fish for these bottom dwelling brawlers with one of the simplest rigs, the traditional style bottom rig. First, a swivel, not too fancy here just something that will prevent that lead weight from sliding all the way down to the hook. Ok, you’ve got your swivel and now you need a lead weight. I like
3 oz. egg sinkers—not too heavy and yet heavy enough. So take that lead and feed it on the working end of your line and secure the line to that swivel with a clench or fisherman’s knot. You can also place a small bead between the lead and the swivel. This will preserve the integrity of the knot. Next cut about 3 feet of 50 lb. fluorocarbon, secure one end to the empty eye of that swivel. One eye has the sinker and the other has the fluorocarbon. To finish out the rig you’ll need a good hook to tie on. For this I’d recommend a 7\0 circle hook. Circle hooks are a must when fishing for reef fish like snapper and grouper. Use those bait choices I mentioned earlier and you’ll be screaming for Ethel to get the net! Oh and one last bit of advice, when you drop, try to flip that bait and sinker a short distance away from you to create a bit of an angle so when that sinker and bait rockets towards the bottom, that cut bait is less likely to spin around your line and twist you up.
There are flipsides to summertime fun. Dehydration is a constant here in the Florida summers. Heat injuries can ruin that special trip you’ve been looking forward to taking. Be sure you plan for the days that have a heat index topping 105 degrees by having plenty of water for yourself and your crew. Another way your trip can go wrong is rough seas. Now I’ve seen my share of rough seas and I’ll tell you it is no joke if you’ve found yourself in “less than optimal” conditions. The best way to avoid situations that exceed your comfort level is not to put yourself in that situation in the first place. But even the most seasoned of us get caught from time to time. If you tip toe along that fine line you’re bound to step over it eventually. So, you’ve been out fishing and you know that every day around 3:00, the afternoon freight train rolls through with some serious force. Due to some extenuating circumstance your return was delayed. Now you’re faced with a serious decision. Do I plow head-on into the mouth of the beast or divert around and make safe landfall elsewhere? The safe choice would be to divert and not put yourself in a bad spot.
If you’re ready to get out and see how Kelly and I do it, give us a jingle, find us on Facebook, Instagram or our website.
Tight lines & y’all stay safe!!
Capt Jesse McDowall