By: Steve Fifer
The windy summer continues but the fishing is still good when you get a calm day. Offshore, the mahi, wahoo, and blackfin are there for the boats that withstand some bouncy conditions. There are also our regular summertime visitors like sailfish and barracuda waiting for you. The movement of bait as determined by winds, currents, and water temps will draw these bluewater species as close as the 90-foot drop, the 14 buoy, and the sea buoy where they’ll strike a trolled skirted ballyhoo. The wrecks, live bottoms, and ledges in these areas offer terrific bottom fishing and deep jigging, too. Grouper, triggerfish, sea bass, and all sorts of grunts, scup, and porgies are always ready to eat any sort of bait you can drop to them on a bottom rig. They’ll smack jigs worked butterfly-style up through the water column or bounced along the bottom. Be sure to use enough weight to keep your bait or lure as vertical as possible. Closer to the beach, the artificial reefs, rocks, and wrecks have the same bottomfish on them plus amberjacks, sharks, and flounder. Again, jigging or dropping any sort of live or dead bait to the bottom will get a bite almost every time. The same nearshore areas have king mackerel around them. They are plentiful but a little smaller this year. Slow trolling a live menhaden or a frozen cigar minnow is the preferred method. Inshore this year the key seems to be the incoming tide; it brings clean water it. The water color on the outgoing tide has been nasty this summer. The marshes, boat docks, and creeks along the Intercoastal are holding redfish, speckled trout, black drum, and flounder while the bridge pilings and port wall have good numbers of sheepshead. The top three lures for this fishery are a Gulp shrimp or soft plastic on a jighead, a plastic shrimp under a popping cork, and a topwater lure (best in low-light conditions like early or late in the day). The most consistent action is fishing live bait like a shrimp, finger mullet, or mud minnow on a carolina rig and the keys are using a short leader (10-12”) and an egg sinker just heavy enough to bounce along the bottom, typically ¼ to 1 ounce.