As we approach the height of summer, the combination of midday heat and afternoon thunderstorms put an emphasis on getting out early. Hopefully, realizing that this period provides some of the lightest winds we’ll see all year helps ease some of the pain associated with setting the alarm clock. With the exception of looking for snook in the surf, i’ll typically begin moving off the beaches and into the harbor. Due to water temperatures, I won’t venture too far into the backcountry and will instead spend most of my time around the intracoastal and bar systems on the harbor’s perimeter.  Snook and redfish will be moving up and down adjacent shorelines.

Adjacent to the intracoastal, flats and shorelines on both sides from Stump Pass in Lemon Bay down to the beginning of the idle zone at Placida can be good. On the other side of the Boca Grande Causeway, anywhere from Catfish Creek in Gasparilla Sound down to Useppa Island in northern Pine Island Sounds is worth a look. Inside the harbor, I like bar systems directly affected by tides flushing in from Boca Grande Pass. To the north, the entire bar from Cape Haze Point at the lower end of the west wall to Cayo Pelau at the bottom of Gasparilla Sound can hold some good fish. To the south, the system from Jug Creek to Smokehouse Bay on the northern end of Pine Island can fish well.

In the heat, spotted sea trout will be lethargic but can provide an early bite. The best bet should be some of the deeper holes in Lemon Bay and Pine Island Sound. Proximity to Gulf passes is key and two to four feet is best.

Tarpon are still a viable option and look for groups to school up in the deeper holes of the upper harbor as well as the bridges. In particular, the mouth of the Myakka outside the bridge is a good spot and will only get better as we move into August. In addition, smaller juvenile fish should begin showing between the bar and outside shorelines on both the east and west walls.

Lemon, blacktip, and bull sharks will be scattered throughout the area. The artificial reefs at Cape Haze and Alligator Creek are good spots as is the mouth of Rocky Channel in Pine Island Sound.

Lastly, the mangrove snapper bite on the hill just inside Boca Grande Pass at about 30 feet can be fun and is a great spot to take the family.

Red fish tail

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