Of all the months, August is the one when my catches decline the most. It's a month plagued with very hot and frequently stormy weather. Hopefully we will not have a hurricane but tropical storms and other disturbances during August are almost a given. Weather of any magnitude anywhere close to our vicinity can cause tides to rise way above normal, scattering fish to new hiding places.
Currently, tides are fluctuating within usual summer ranges, abnormal lows and highs during new and full moon, and then returning to normal as these lunar phases diminish. Water temperatures are rising above 90⁰ by midday, frequently causing the bite to fade until late-afternoon. Early-morning wades have been most productive with another flurry coming late-evening. Tidal movement, in or out, helps tremendously.
Wading belly-deep has been the key in finding a good trout bite – adjacent to deeper water, sometimes just off the ICW. The easy part is that we are finding fish on harder sand bottoms. If we are wading soft bottom, the sand is but a few inches below the mud which makes it easier than mud wades in other seasons.
Mullet have been the greatest key in locating feeding gamefish. Their rooting of the bottom as they feed on algae produces tell-tale mud streaks that lead us straight to the predators that gather to feed on them.
Redfish encounters continue to be up one day and down the next. Overall, we are still not catching the numbers of years past. Very scattered on the flats, especially on windy days. Calm days are easier as we can spot their waking from a distance. The majority of our reds have been holding in four- to six foot depths, well away from boat traffic.
Edges of spoils that contain sand pockets have been holding fair numbers of redfish in the early part of the day. The east side flats on calm days have been a sure bet to find a few scattered fish and, on occasion, you may even run into a school. Large potholes near the sand/grass transition have scattered redfish early in the day that just seem to disappear later in the day. I can say that most of our redfish catches have come in the early part of the day and have been around schools of mullet.
The Super Spook Jr. has been effective in the early morning hours but floating grass has been a big problem – even with single hooks. Quite often we have to resort to throwing weedless gold spoons to get a decent chance at the reds.
Trout continue to be our mainstay. We are landing very good numbers from many spots we visit during the course of the day. We continue to do well along the flats adjacent to the ICW. Working the edges of any visible grass bed can be productive. Potholes around spoil islands are holding the bigger fish.
With the tide expected to rise this month, the spoils will continue to be prime areas. Recently inundated shorelines are not to be passed up this time of the year, especially if bait is present. Pay particular attention to narrow cuts between spoils when the tidal current is strong; bigger specimens lie in that concentrated current waiting an easy meal to be delivered. Dancing a topwater down the ICW drop-off is always a good strategy when the tide is moving.
Best chances for flounder continue to be found along ICW drop-offs and old oilfield channels on the flats. Our landings are definitely fewer at present than years past but they can still be found in the areas mentioned. Keep in mind that where you catch one will often provide several more if you fish that structure patiently.
I would like to thank all my clients that have participated in Empty Stringers this year. The program is doing very well and we have been releasing lots of fish. I would also like to thank my sponsors that make it happen for me on the water: Fishing Tackle Unlimited, Shallow Sport Boats, Simms, AFTCO, Costa del Mar, MirrOlure, SPRO, Gamakatsu, KWigglers and Power Pole.It's been a year now that I retired from education and began guiding on a full-time basis. I love what I'm doing and often have to pinch myself to make sure I'm not dreaming. I hope I can continue sharing, teaching, putting clients on fish, and releasing them for years to come. Practice conservation and courtesy toward your fellow anglers!