Apart from one tournament in Key West in July, we don’t really target marlin in my region, but we do seem to catch a lot of them during the full moons from May through August. More often than not, our marlin come as incidental catches when trolling ballyhoo for dolphin.
The last Wednesday and Thursday in July is the two-day Mini-Season for lobster in Florida waters, followed by the opening of the general lobster season the first Wednesday in August. There’s usually big crowds of divers on the water during the mini-season and early in the general season because they want to take advantage of the lobster that have ganged up since the season closed in April.
When people think of my region, permit fishing isn’t the first thing that comes to mind, despite the fact that we have some of the best fishing and some of the biggest permit found in Florida waters. July is prime time for permit fishing in my region, as the fish are schooled up on the reefs and wrecks, as well as around the inlets and on the beaches.
July is a great month to target swordfish, for two reasons: the ocean is flat so you have a lot of favorable fishing conditions and there’s a lot of dolphin around for the fish to feed on.
I don’t do a lot of nighttime swordfishing these days. It seems like the bite ratio has really dropped off at night for some reason, so I target them mainly during the daytime.
Summertime grouper fishing isn’t as good as it is in the winter when the fish come in close to shore to spawn, but it can still be very good. As the water warms up during the summer months the main body of fish will move out to deeper water, which is the Gulf of Mexico is like 85 to 120 or 130 feet.
Most adults who are passionate about fishing were first exposed to the sport as kids. Whether it was a parent, a relative or friend, it’s usually someone else who fishes that takes you for the very first time, and that experience is key to whether someone develops a passion for the sport.
We have a variety of sharks in my region that you can catch year-round, but if I was going to pick my favorite month to target them, it would be July. That’s when the pogie (Atlantic Menhaden) schools are thick along the beaches and the shrimp boats are dumping their bycatch daily within a few miles of shore. At the same time, the ocean is flat calm, so you can fish just about every day.
June is just a fantastic month to target mangrove snapper in my region because the Gulf of Mexico is flat calm so you can run fast to the wrecks and reefs, and the fish are schooled up and feeding. What’s nice about mangrove snapper is that you can find them inshore and offshore, so the nearshore wrecks, ledges will hold fish, as will any structure inshore like downed trees or logs, or rocks and seawalls.
The end of May and early June are prime time for dolphin fishing in the East Region. There’s still some big fish coming over from the eastern side of the Gulf Stream, and at the same time, the weedlines are starting to stack up while the seas are calming, so there’s a lot more days you can get out on the water.