Hot: The hottest days of the year are here. If you can stand it in the gulf, plenty of fish can be caught.
Chumming: This is important this time of year. Water temps are trying to reach the unbearable 90 degrees. The only problem with lots of chum in deeper waters is lots of bonito and sharks. They live for warm-water conditions and have endless appetites. Trying to lure in a few red grouper from a crack in the bottom 100 yards away can easily attract these two felons into your slick. Many other fish eventually will join the party if a chum slick keeps rolling. Overwhelm the populations of fish below with chum, and they'll go into a feeding frenzy.
Mangrove snapper: These reef fish are becoming a major player this month. Their appetites increase as they fatten in preparation of their July-August spawn. These are truly the best-tasting white fish in the gulf but one of the trickiest to catch. Chumming is the most important tool, but there are other variables. They can be sneaky when rattling bait. Rattling is the short but intense bites from mango as they eat their way up the bait fish. One nip at a time until all is gone. Wait until the third or four rattle before reeling fast. This "crank, don't yank" method is a must when mango fishing. Setting the hook only will bring up an empty hook. A 20-pound outfit makes the fights rewarding. Use just enough lead to get your presentation down to the fish. Too much lead always spooks these smart reef fish.
Dave Mistretta captains the Jaws Too out of Indian Rocks Beach and can be reached at email@example.com, jawstoo.com or (727) 439-2628.