SUN PHOTO/RUSTY CHINNIS
Fishing in the early morning hours, when the water
is cooler, is one way to assure yourself of getting
By Rusty Chinnis
sun staff writer
Summer is officially here, and the fireworks of the Fourth
of July once again signals that area waters are heating
up. Savvy anglers will know to change their strategies,
tailoring their efforts to maximize comfort and opportunities.
One of the prime times to fish during the dog days is
before the sun crests the horizon. The myriad dock and
bridge lights that illuminate the waterways from Bradenton
to Venice are prime targets. These areas hold schools
of snook, as well as trout and a host of other species.
Docks with a water depth in excess of 6 feet are best.
Tidal flow is another indication of action. Lights on
the up tide side of a structure are best, allowing you
more latitude when making a presentation, preventing hang
ups and allowing flies, lures and bait to swing to the
With a little attention to detail, its possible
to target some docks on the incoming tide and others on
the outgoing tide.
The presence of hard bottom near a bridge or dock is another
indicator of good fish habitat. The presence of bait is
directly related to structures like ledges, oyster bars
and seawalls. These areas attract the bait that lures
The type of lights on the dock can also influence the
action. Lights that sit low to the water seem to have
a more distinctive shadow line, an area where feeding
fish concentrate. In any case, the fish seem to hang on
the dark edges of the shadow lines.
When the rising sun lightens the horizon, anglers can
move to the flats to target redfish, snook and trout.
Concentrate your fishing around flats with good grass
cover. In addition, look for flats that feature channel
edges, potholes, sand bars and oyster bars. The addition
of a strong tide will increase your odds.
In the hottest months from July to September, most of
the early morning tides are from 1 to 1 1/2 feet, so anglers
will seldom see pushes or tails. Instead, concentrate
on scattering bait, working birds and schools of mullet.
One of the most productive strategies is to fish "seams,"
demarcation lines that separate grass, sand, and other
While pre-dawn or early morning is generally the best
time during sweltering weather, there is one exception.
The late afternoon outgoing tides that correspond to the
full and new moons provide some fast action with a variety
of species. Areas to concentrate on include the slues
and channels that drain the inshore flats, and the passes
where the funneling effect concentrates game fish and
their prey. Passes that have flanking seawalls and rock
groins can be particularly productive. These areas attract
and concentrate the baitfish on which the predators feed.
Work lures and flies close to the structure. Fishing the
"doldrums" can be productive no matter where
you fish as long as you follow a few rules. First and
foremost, you must find conditions that are acceptable
to the species you seek. A snook and redfish are much
more tolerant of high water temperatures than trout. In
general, water temperatures must not be excessive, and
you can count on early mornings and deeper water to moderate
conditions. The exception to the rule will be those areas
and times where the presence of food overrides the fishes
desire to locate comfortable conditions. Fishing the "Summer
Doldrums," can be challenging, but master the rules
and youll have a lot of productive fishing to yourself.