“Summer patterns of heat, afternoon thunder-boomers and floating grass are in full effect across the Forgotten Coast,” says Capt. Dave Lear of Tallahassee. “Anglers who adjust accordingly to weather and hot water conditions are finding cooperative fish.”
Early and late are the prime times to hunt big sea trout right now. Top-water action is good in low light conditions and when the water is the coolest. An assortment of popular plugs will tempt big trout lurking around rock grass patches, creek mouths and ambush points. Shrimp lures like the DOA 1/4-ounce fished solo or under a popping/clacker cork will attract attention. Soft-plastic jigs like the hometown Sureketch are another good choice. If the floating grass is too thick, try a jerk bait rigged with a weedless worm hook. They will snake through the obstacles much easier and the trout love ‘em. During the heat of the day, move into deeper water and bounce a heavier jig off the bottom. Pearl has been a hot color of late, but natural patterns are never a bad choice.
Redfish love a sauna, so you can still find the red drum roaming along flooded shorelines and flats. The most effective search bait for reds is the weedless spoon like the Aqua Dream or Capt. Mike’s willow blade variety. Try gold or pink if the water is stained; chartreuse, watermelon or silver work well in clear water.
There are lots of other options right now. Big jacks are cruising the flats in search of hapless minnows. You’ll need a stout outfit and lots of commotion to whip these bruisers. Cobia continue to meander through the local depths. Bucktail jigs or Whip-It Eels are tops in fooling ling. Tarpon, mackerel, sharks and flounder round out the variety, along with bluefish and ladyfish.
If you prefer to use real bait, a well-placed cast net throw will load the well with pilchards, sardines, finger mullet and mud minnows. Pinfish can be caught using traps or gold hooks and tiny pieces of squid. Or you can buy frisky live shrimp from several area marinas.
After another round of thunderstorms and blustery conditions, the weekend forecast is looking favorable. Winds are expected to be light out of the southwest on Saturday and Sunday. High tides will flood in around dawn with more than three feet of flow and drop out somewhat around lunch time. The peak solunar periods will correspond with the high tides early and late afternoon while average feeding windows will occur around the last of the slack.
Memorial Day Weekend marked the start of the CCA Florida STAR Tournament. This summer-long 101-day event offers contestants the chance to win boat/motor/trailer packages, a GMC pick-up, college scholarships for the junior anglers and lots of other cool prizes. You have to be registered beforehand to win, so don’t risk losing a new boat or truck by not entering. For more information, visit: www.ccaflstar.com