July 2014 Fishing Forecast
What’s being caught on the flats?
Fishing is very active in the summer time on the flats and inshore waters. Clearwater Bay and St. Joseph Sound in Dunedin have been on fire with all of the shallow water species showing up on the incoming tide. The water temperatures will be near 90 degrees and the afternoon air temps are reaching 95. As long as you can keep moving and fish various stages of the tide, this will be your most productive pattern.
On all of my charters, clients have caught more than 20 trout. Some of these trout have been 20 inches or bigger. Pick a grass flat inside the major passes and set up on the moving tide. Trout, mackerel, bluefish, lady fish and small sharks have been all over the flats. Use shrimp on a float or 3 inch green backs for non-stop action. Some 4 to 5 lb. mackerel and blue fish have been caught using this method along with some 20 inch trout. We caught many lady fish, lots of black tip sharks, and some of the biggest mackerel I have ever caught. We also caught a few scattered snook, redfish and mangrove snapper to add to the fun.
So get out there and catch a slam. Have your camera ready to snap a quick picture and release alive. Catching a trophy fish in our pristine waters in July is waiting. Remember to release quickly, the water temps are very warm.
Here is a few tips when using your electric trolling motor on the flats.
The inshore flats are too shallow to fish using the boat's big engine. Your boat may be able to float in eight to ten inches of water, but moving it down a mangrove shore line and quietly presenting your bait to the residents without spooking, can be challenging.
There are several different ways you can quietly and effectively fish on the flats and in the shallow waters.
First, target a shallow water flat you intend to fish. At this point you can use the wind to push you across the area, fishing while you are drifting. Hopefully the wind is blowing in the right direction to get you across the flat. Or, If you have a small very light shallow water skiff and a poling platform, you can push your boat across the area using a push pole. Of course, If you are fishing alone, this would be very difficult.
The best way I have found to fish in all shallow water areas, is using an electric trolling motor. This is a piece of equipment that should be on every boat that fishes in shallow water.
My 21' Maverick flats skiff, has a Minn Kota SF 80, 24 volt (two batteries) with a 62" shaft. The MK 80, has 80 lbs of thrust and can move the boat in strong winds and currents. It can also slowly glide along a mangrove shore line or across a shallow flat very quietly to not spook the targeted fish.
A trolling motor becomes very user friendly when I am fishing alone or out scouting new areas. Standing on the boats bow, I can cast at fish and guide the boat at the same time.
When arriving at your shallow water destination, trim up the big engine and put out the electric trolling motor. You will have greater control of the boat and be able to quietly sneak up on all of your favorite fish.
Capt. Gary Burch owns and operates All Catch Charters and specializes in live baits and artificials. He guides inshore, flats and backcountry from Clearwater to Tarpon Springs. To reach Capt. Gary for a charter, please call 727 458-6335 or visit his website:
Capt. Gary Burch