At the end of this week, the west wind pattern finally broke and with some luck our regular summer weather will set in for a while.
The westerly flow every day and night, with its random thunderstorms and a roughed up Gulf, made planning fishing trips a challenge. Many of my booked trips in the past couple of weeks have been cut short or not attempted at all. The heavy rains have served to moderate water temperatures to around the 80-degree level and reduce salinity levels, which many inshore species like.
On Friday the Gonzalez family from Valrico and Anna Maria enjoyed an almost rain-free half-day trip with some pretty good action with grouper, snapper, redfish, mackerel and trout. Numerous red and gag grouper were boated from a number of bay sites with hard bottom, ledges or wrecks. A 26 ?-inch redfish was the largest fish of the day, the groupers were all non-keepers and the mangrove snapper were pretty thick and of a good average size.
Earlier in the week my clients encountered some above-average-size spotted sea trout action on the open, deep grass of North Sarasota Bay. The specks were measuring in from 15 to 24 inches. The open flats have also been giving up big ladyfish, bluefish and spanish mackerel. The redfish have been scattered but should start schooling up toward the end of July and into late summer.
The bays have been invaded by a plethora of small bait, including Spanish sardines. They are great bait even though they are small; just scale down the size of the hooks. Do not throw a standard 3/8-inch mesh net on this bait unless you want to spend hours trying to clear the gilled-up baits. Be mindful not to overload your baitwell in the summer as they will die quickly if overcrowded, even in the best of livewells.
Good luck and good fishing. Be careful out there!
Capt. "Zach" Zacharias
Docked on Palma Sola Bay at Parrot Cove Marina/Sunny Shores
115th Street West and 36th Avenue, Cortez, FL 34215