The old adage says a bad day of fishing is better than a good day at work.
So why do anglers strive to get off the water early during summer? Is it that the heat presents different challenges to overcome?
When the going gets tough, the tough should get going.
Grouper diggers think all the fish have gone west _ not altogether true. That seatrout have moved to deeper water (true) and snook _ though out of season _ only bite at dawn or dusk are rules of thumb that may have some anglers doing things contrary to successful thinking.
While it's true that fishing takes on a different face during the high heat of summer, with a little persistence and good plan, any day can be a good one.
Firstly, anglers need to drop the concept of species-specific fishing.
Summer is a time to simply bend a rod and stretch some string. Does it really matter on what? And if a bad day occurs, isn't there something to be learned from it?
There can be good action if you go searching.
For those wanting to find Florida's favorite fish sandwich, grouper living on inshore structure _ while a bit lethargic _ will bite. You just have to coax them.
Most grouper will hole up and find any shade available to relax in. Typically, they will move into holes in the rocks they inhabit and sit tight until cooler moments come along.
Grouper, unlike humans, don't need to eat as often and are content to live off their body fats and oils. If an offering floats right in front of them, they will gobble it up, but if it takes work to eat, they probably will pass up the tidbit.
Snorkelers are finding inshore structure loaded with fish, but hot-water temperatures have them lethargic. Try fishing inshore spots early in the morning, especially after a night rain or windy evening. Water temperatures will have cooled a bit.
Slip a chumbag over the side upcurrent from the structure, then add bits and pieces of chopped frozen sardines to the mix. This combination usually will spark something's appetite. Look for mackerel hitting the surface. Not only do they make decent eating, they make great bait for grouper.
Your plan should include heading off to deeper water as the day heats up. Moving affords everyone on board a chance to cool off.
Anchoring skills become even more important during summer.
Regardless of the depth, larger fish will be holding tighter to the cover. Use smelly baits such as frozen sardines, and be patient once anchored down.
If _ after hitting deeper water _ you find blooms of light green and blue mixed with yellow on your color recorder, chances are you're seeing huge schools of squid. Those days will be tough. The fish will be gorging themselves on this summer delicacy. Try fishing squid on bottom, find shallower water or take a few grunts and head home.
Sharks are an option inshore or off.
However, sitting on a spot, slow-chumming for sharks in the relentless heat can get downright uncomfortable. It's best to look for small coastal species along breaklines and small underwater humps. Cast dead or stunned baits at them. If one eats, great, if not, no big deal.
For inshore anglers, summer means getting out early or at night for the best action, but there is much to be learned from a midday excursion.
Snook fishing has been good along outside points, rockpiles and beachheads.
These areas will not only hold larger fish but will have higher populations of anglers. Finding alternative areas is a smart move. Search shallow grass edges along the mainland for smaller males and sub-adults. They're great fun, and fishing pressure is diverted from the larger breeding fish.
The same areas that hold smaller snook have redfish. Both hit the same lures and baits.
Get the earliest start time possible, and look for cooler water. Find areas with fast-moving water. They have the highest concentrations of saturated oxygen, which sparks fish-feeding activity.
As temperatures rise, head off to deeper water looking for seatrout. Grass beds in 7-10 feet will produce good-sized and numerous fish. Watch your depth finder for any structure on the bottom. Trout will hold near these areas provided there's sufficient grass to hide in.
If you plan your day right, watch and follow the tides appropriately, you will be moving often and cooling down. Another good strategy is to do some wading. It is a great way to beat the heat and sneak up on lazy fish.
In a way, getting home early may inhibit the amount of fish captured on an outing. Stay the course, figure out how to keep cool and fish the whole day.
You won't often forget it. Besides, we prepare and fish during winter's worst.Why not learn to acclimate to summer's sizzling onslaught.
If you have a question or comment, call Capt. Mike Scarantino at (352) 683-4868.