St. Vincent Island to Steinhatchee
Includes Apalachicola, St. George Island, Carabelle, St. Marks and Keaton Beach
As we enter into the second week of July, I have to ask myself, how hot can it get? A scorching heat wave is upon us right now and it shows no signs of letting up this week. There is one good side effect of hot weather, good ocean conditions! We are looking at a 1 to 2 foot ocean in our region until next Monday as it is stated now. Shallow water conditions are heating up to the breaking point in St. Joe and Apalachicola Bay and down the coast with the same results.
Inshore fishing has become the early and late game in our region and will continue until late summer, What this means is that in order to be more productive, we need to follow the heat patterns. Most fish, just like humans are going to need relief from the scorching sun by mid-morning and that is the most challenging time to fish. I have had some success this week with inshore species, but they are harder to catch than in the past few weeks. I have seen good red fish in massive schools running close to the beaches in St. Joe Bay. I tried over and over again to hook on to no avail. These fish are spooky and the most of them are in legal size with good numbers. A wading approach or kayak would be the best and most stealthy approach and may just give you the edge to get in on this action. The trout in the bays are moving good and feeding aggressively as well. Most of the trout will be easier to catch, but stay close to the edge of a grass beds or over the flats and you should do well. The major let down now is that the water is so hot that finding live bait is a real challenge. I looked hard for about an hour in St. Joe Bay to find only a few LY’s in the usual spots and ended up with barley two-dozen before calling it a day. Most of the bait is deep as well and hard to get to without some sort of modified cast net to get down fast. Pinfish are still in the grass and most of the bigger ones have made themselves scarce.
Scalloping is well under way this week and St. Joe Bay is reporting on a good year so far. As always early in the season we are getting lots of smaller shells, but the meat seems to be bigger for the size. In the Fire Tower area loads of smaller shells are everywhere but the bigger ones seem to be holding in deeper water, maybe 6 to 8 feet. Of course, this will all change as the water changes late in the summer and I will stay on top of it.
Offshore action is at a good level as gag grouper is open in the west part of our region in full effect. Most anglers are reporting good fish in the 150 to 180 foot range but not very good numbers of gags yet. I found a good spot in 168 feet with only one gag and several red groupers last weekend. My action was strictly on cut bait and whole Boston mackerel. Our season runs until December, so we have plenty of time and as soon as the water cools down, our gag fishing will be great. Kingfish and Spanish are still so thick that is hard to get bait down to the grouper. I have seen king fish thick but never as heavy as they are now. Almost any bait will work and trolling is difficult because of so many fish in the area that is hard to get more than two lines out at a time. Take advantage of this while it last and add some fish to the box. Our weather is hot and the fishing is good so come on down to the Forgotten Coast for a trophy fish or a good time!