Hotter’n Blazes and Commonsense Safety Practices

You will notice numerous mentions in this issue of beating August’s searing temperatures by getting on the water early – real early. Our writers who fish for a living learned long ago that leaving the dock as early as you can see well enough to navigate safely in August is the surest way to find the day’s best bite. A handheld spotlight can get you underway earlier, provided you have an assistant holding the light. Safe boat operation requires one hand on the throttle and the other on the wheel. Nobody has three hands; don’t tempt fate by pretending you do. LED lightbars shining forward are great navigational aids but please take care to avoid blinding others with the high-intensity beam.

I have noticed several instances lately of anglers anchoring and getting off to wade in morning darkness, leaving the boat at anchor without lighting of any type. This is an unsafe practice that could result in a collision or waders being run over. Another good practice is to anchor the boat as near the area you plan to wade as possible. I see anglers wading neck-deep with their boats anchored hundreds of yards closer to shore. I’m not suggesting you should never chase the bite this deep but for heaven’s sake take a few minutes to reposition the boat. Your head bobbing like a crab trap float is a poor way to alert passing boats to your presence.

August’s weather patterns typically allow great opportunity for the small-boat fleet to participate in nearshore and offshore fishing. Safe captains monitor VHF weather frequencies to track weather developments. Squalls can appear in minutes and seas can become dangerously rough. That cell phone might work on the bay but signal strength is often unreliable a few miles into the gulf.

No month can match the potential for chasing trout and redfish in the August surf. Walking into the surf from the beach is popular in some areas, boating along the shoreline is another great option. My favorite is exiting the boat and wade fishing. No matter your preference, just remember the gulf is very different from the bay in terms of boating and wading hazards. You would do well to learn these from an experienced companion before venturing out on your own. I recommend wearing an inflatable PFD at all times when boating and wading the surf.

It is still a few weeks early at press time to say recreational anglers will be able to enjoy the full 63-day projected red snapper season in federal waters but it is beginning to look that way. Seas this summer have been rougher on average that last year, which translates to reduced fishing effort, and greater probability the season will remain open until the projected August 3 closure. Snapper anglers are encouraged to use descending devices such as Seaqualizer when releasing fish suffering barotrauma and report their landings via the iSnapper app.

Be safe on the water and take a youngster fishing!