For many, this could simply be an extension of May. If the tarpon are abundant, it’s difficult not to fish them and they can be found spread out from the top of the harbor all the way out to the beaches. To be expected, the tarpon do draw a crowd; it’s just part of the experience. On the other hand, it does open up lots of shoreline in the backcountry and on more than one occasion I’ve found myself taking advantage of this newfound tranquility. Keep in mind, if you do plan on working some backcountry shorelines watch the the tides and get out there before the tides get up as on high water these shorelines can be tough to fish.
Snook will be all over the beaches and provide one of the best opportunities all year to fish without needing a boat. A small white fly like a schminnow or clouser is all you need. On calm mornings its even a great time to downsize to that six-weight you’ve always wanted to throw. Particularly around deep cuts and tidal creeks, there are plenty of snook inside. These fish will be tight to mangrove structure so I like flies that are designed to be as snag free as possible. These are typically light flies and weed guards can be an important component. A bendback is a great light pattern that really doesn’t even need a weed guard. Light and sparsely tied patterns like a Puglisi baitfish with a weed guard can be really effective.
Redfish will also be around mangrove structure in just about all the bays and sounds that surround the harbor. As the water temperature heats up, I do like looking in areas adjacent to the intracoastal or open harbor. For example, around the intracoastal, the cooler oxygenated water coming in from the Gulf helps provide more oxygen. As these fish will be keying on the scaled sardines or “whitebait“ a baitfish pattern in a silver grey color combination is a good bet.
Spotted sea trout will also be keying on the scaled sardines and will be active early before the day heats up. Any decent grass flat in two to four feet adjacent to the intracoastal could fish well. Here, I like the same type baitfish pattern I throw for the redfish.
Sharks are abundant and soaking a piece of cut bait anywhere near an artificial reef has a chance of getting picked up. Cobia and big jack crevalle can be found around the bar systems surrounding the harbor. Sometimes, jacks can be seen pushing water at the bar’s edge. In both cases, the cobia and jacks, just about any bait placed where they can see it should get eaten.