By Jimmy Tomazinis
mail@floridanewsline.com

June, July, and August typically mean hot, humid days with consistent afternoon thunderstorms for our area of the river — and June was brutally hot with just a bit of rain. This extension of a hot, dry period has really kept the salinity up from the Buckman Bridge south. Higher salinity makes our area a little more comfortable for fish such as spotted seatrout and unfortunately hardhead catfish, which have really been a pain for anyone soaking shrimp on the bottom lately. 

One drawback is the increased salinity can really hamper the eel grass growth and even kill it if it gets too high. The eelgrass beds provide crucial habitat for juvenile fish and crustaceans in the river. We need some rain, just not too much. 

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So how’s the fishing been? This has been one of the better starts to shrimp season that we’ve had in a number of years, both in size and numbers. An abundance of shrimp means easy bait catching and a lot of hungry fish around looking for a shrimp dinner. 

One of the standouts have been the stripers. They are almost a given around bridge pilings or deeper docks when presented with shrimp right now. The water temperatures are in the upper 80s, so many of the fish seek the shade under docks or bridges as well as deeper water to stay cool. Currently redfish, flounder, and sheepshead can be found near the docks. Fish a bait on the bottom if specifically targeting these species, but a bait presented on or near the surface can coax a trout or bass into biting. Bass seem to have the highest affinity for the shrimp that are found in the river.

If you have never bass fished with live shrimp under a popping cork, I’d highly recommend it. The visual spectacle of watching a five pound bass chase a shrimp to the surface and almost jump out of the water trying to eat it is a sight to behold. 

If surf fishing is more your thing then there’s still a reason to take to the beach and brave the summer crowds. The late summer months give you one of the best chances to hook a tarpon from the sand. The pogy pods they feast on keep them within casting distance a lot of times. Fish where the bait pods are visible with a fresh dead pogy or live whiting and make sure your tackle is sufficient. 

Until next time, stay hydrated and tight lines.

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