I like to fish early this time of the year. The cooler morning water temperatures provide the best opportunity to hunt snook and redfish just outside the confines of mangrove cover where they’ll spend most of the day as soon as everything heats up. Some days, the combination of late night rain and tide will help determine where I’ll look on any given day. For example, if we get an overnight rain storm with an early morning outgoing tide I’ll look around tidal creek areas.
For the most part, I’ll transition from the backcountry to outside shorelines adjacent to bar systems that provide some cooler water from the open harbor. Also, I like shorelines in close proximity to the intracoastal waterway. Here, there’s cooler oxygenated water flowing through the passes from the Gulf.
Whether tidal creek or intracoastal, it’s hard to beat a top water bite first thing in the morning. In the event that floating grass makes that difficult, try going to a suspending plug or even a weedless soft plastic. These are all good ways to cover ground and look for a bite. This time of year, it’s not unusual to find yourself with calm slick conditions and a flat that can be very visual. By this, I mean mullet are very apparent as well as pushes from both redfish and snook.
Even though you may not see the fish at first, you may begin noticing single V wakes pushing off. Slow it down and some sight fishing opportunities may present themselves. This is one of my favorite times to get the fly rod out. It’s also the time you want to be on the poling platform and not running the trolling motor. Furthermore, don’t be surprised if you run into a few small blacktip sharks as they’ll be cruising flats throughout the harbor.
Even though the tarpon migration is winding down, there will still be some fish on the beach. Too, this begins a period where we can target our resident population. They’ll begin grouping up around the deeper holes of the upper harbor and around the mouth of both the Peace and Myakka rivers.
As a game plan, consider the west wall with its multiple creek systems and eight miles of shoreline and adjacent bar system. Here, because of its proximity to the harbor’s deeper holes we could fish all morning working the shoreline, the bar structure, and even make a short run to look for rolling tarpon.
Off the flats, this is one of the best times of year to do some mangrove snapper fishing. Inside Boca Grande Pass in about 20 or 30 feet up on the hill is a great place. Live bait or shrimp dropped to the bottom can provide some great fun.