If you have ventured south of the JFK Causeway often this summer you have no doubt been impressed with the quality of the bay water we have been enjoying reminds me of the Caribbean! With record wind-speed and gusts, the water just holds its own as if to say, "No excuses!" The water quality has allowed for some great opportunity in the Upper Laguna while Baffin will have more of a tendency to get blown out. If there is a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow it would be that it clears up in a hurry, allowing for some beautiful fishing conditions. If you have not been down yet this summer and are planning a trip; be aware that the jellyfish are really thick and long wading pants are a must! The past two freezing winters saw a big die-off of green sea turtles and I am curious whether that might be part of the scenario - jellyfish are a big part of their diet. Whatever the reason, I know there are more this year than I have ever seen.
Fishing has been superb this summer and should continue on through July and August. Being a trout enthusiast I start my days early and do most of my running to the first spot in the dark. I am a big believer of the moon phases, major and minor (solunar) feeding periods, and always try and have my Haynie HO positioned in the best area for the best chance at a trophy at first light. Knowing it and utilizing it throughout the summer is a big part of my game on the water, but years of trial and error has also taught me that the best big trout bite is going to be early when the water temperature settles into the 80-plus range during this time of year. If a solunar feed period happens to occur at that time it is just icing on the cake for me. As a wade fisherman, I have a few choices during the heat of the summer. I roll on the trout until about 10:00 a.m. and then turn the rest of the day into catching redfish in the shallows or I start hitting deep structure using the Power-Pole and trolling motor for more trout (big ones too). At one point in my career I was such a purist (or just plain hardheaded) that I would not consider fishing from the boat, but as a charter captain I quickly realized that fulfilling client's expectations of large trout far outweighed my once purist tendencies.
My top lure choices for wading will be a MirrOlure She Dog in the early morning, and switching to 5" Bass Assassins on 1/16 oz jigs as the sun comes up. If fishing the shallow potholes on area shorelines at first light, the MirrOlure Fat Boy Corky will be a heavy favorite. As the sun comes up and my clients opt to go for deepwater trout instead of redfish, I will stay with the 5" Bass Assassin, but will go to 1/8 or 1/4 oz jigheads to probe the depths. Digging through my old bass boxes, I have also started using more lipped crankbaits on deep structure with awesome success.
I mentioned this last July but feel it is worth saying again: Whether I am wading or fishing deep structure from the boat, I am always pro catch & release and conscientious in the handling of the smallest to largest trout. As the water temperatures rise above 80 we do not have much time from the setting of the hook to the release before she starts getting weak. To ensure that fish are released healthy enough to fight another day in these warmer months, a few simple practices will go a long way.
Land the fish as soon as possible.
1. Use a Boga Grip or similar device to land the fish. Hand gripping behind the gills or thrashing in a landing net is bad news for fish that are to be released.
2. If possible, remove the hook without lifting her from the water so she can continue to breathe.
3. Keep the fish's head and gills in the water once attached to the landing device. Keep her upright until you are absolutely ready for your buddy to snap a photo.
4. Take a quick weight, set her back in the water upright, slide back and forth to get the water flowing over the gills, cut her loose at the first hint of strong tail movement.
"We took the lead and were in 1st place foreverthen the second boat came in." -Capt. John Little"Set 'em Loose." -Capt. David Rowsey