Summer is here, and the awesome inshore bite it brings will show up right behind it! This is a great time of the year to be a saltwater angler and like always you can expect a busy season throughout May to early August. Snook and Tarpon are the dominate species this time of the year and there are plenty of fish around to be caught. However, redfish, trout and the majority of other inshore species are plentiful during this time of the year also. The best part of Summer is the warm temperatures, big tides and consistent weather patterns it brings. This is a huge advantage for inshore anglers to stay dialed in to certain species and have productive days on the water. With the abundance of live bait and sunshine an angler can surely expect most areas to be filled up by charter captains, other anglers and of course weekend warriors. Throughout my years and experiences as an angler I have learned how to overcome such factors and produce quality fish on a day to day basis.
This is the first step to a successful day on the water. I begin all my trips on the water by planning nights and days ahead of time. For me as an angler, this is the most important because this is when a game plan starts to come together. I begin checking the weather, winds, tides, solar lunar patterns, time of day to start, targeted species, am I using live bait, cut bait, artificials, and having different spots and areas in the location I am fishing. Each one of these factors plays a huge role especially during the summertime when an angler has a large variety of species and areas to fish, it could honestly be overwhelming to some. However, following a few of these guidelines could make for a traffic free and successful day on the water. Firstly, I suggest trying to get out on the water during the weekdays. Whether thats early morning or evening sessions these days will have the least amount of congestion. I’m not saying it is impossible to fish on the weekends but if you want to have most areas to yourself then this is your best bet. Along with that I always make sure I have back up spots near the area I am fishing for the day. Occasionally someone may beat me to my spots so it is important to have multiple locations that will produce fish on any side of the tide. From there, it is crucial to look at the moon phases and tides for your day on the water. Knowing which tide happens at each part of the day allows you to fish your spots and areas effectively. Some of my locations are great during a strong outgoing and then other areas are better on a good incoming. For example; I would fish the beaches and passes during the outgoing flush and then as the tide starts to come in and fill up the grass flats I would go fish mangrove shorelines and underneath the bushes. Looking at these two details will also show the majors and the minors, which are the strongest and weakest parts of the tide. Most inshore species will feed heavily and become more active during the major of a tide. This is a small detail but it can save an angler a lot of time on the water because they can utilize the best part of the tide to produce a quality bite. Based on the tides, weather, winds and some of these other details I then figure out what are my target species for the day and what are my bait options. If I am targeting snook and tarpon on the beaches I'm going to want live bait most likely. Options for these two species could be pilchards, threadfins, mullet, pinfish or crabs. If I want to hit some reds on the flats later in the day I will also carry some cut bait, which could simply be the left over pins and mullet from earlier. Of course, I will always have the choice of throwing artificials as well because it is important to have options on the water and it allows you to target every species. Doing this type of planning gives you a head start in the right direction for your day on the water.
This next step takes all of that planning and brings everything together. Now that you have done your research for your upcoming trip on the water and you have decided on a target species, bait choice, time of day, location, and which tides to fish on you can prepare everything. What I mean by this is simply getting your gear, tackle, and all of your equipment rigged up and ready to go. For me, I do not like to waste anytime the morning of a planned fishing trip. Personally, I like to have my rods rigged the night before, cooler packed, boat loaded, tackle bag stocked, and my castnet and chum ready to go. Most anglers even have thier live bait caught or bought the night before so they don't have to worry about that first thing in the morning. Another affective method is dropping pinfish traps the day before and then picking them up the morning of your trip. To even save more time I will usually have my freezer packed with frozen pins and mullet weekly just to give me that cut bait option whenever it’s needed. Those minutes wasted doing all of this last second
or while on the boat at sunrise could mean the difference between getting on a good bite or missing an opportunity. Preparation is using your time wisely and always being ready for any situation or scenario. If you do plan to use live bait during some part of your trip and you want to knock it out in the morning then give yourself enough time at first light to load up on pilchards, pins, mullet, etc. This gives me the upper hand as an angler because my bait for the day is caught and now all I have to worry about is catching fish! Another important part of preparation are an anglers spots and areas. It is vital to think ahead of time and have multiple areas and zones picked out to fish. If you are on the water enough you will know first hand that there is the possibility of your spot being taken, blown out by careless boaters, or the fish just might not be there that day. Expecting and preparing for this is beneficial and gives an angler the flexibility to move around and fish effectively all day. To go along with this is utilizing google maps in satellite mode. I know I've brought this up in other posts but most of my areas have been found by using google maps. So if you're out on the water and you're out of ideas and areas to fish I suggest using this and explore new flats, beaches and mangrove shorelines that look appealing.
So you did all your planning and preparation and you're ready to get out on the water for a day of success. In saying that the last thing to carry out as an angler is the execution part. This is simply following through with ones game plan and being confident in the homework and preparations you did during the previous days. Make sure you have your bait options executed, tackle bag full, and everything else done and completed for your trip on the water. As an experienced angler I understand it is very easy to get distracted on the water and want to change plans or spots last minute. This can be time consuming and an angler could easily miss out on a hot bite by not sticking to the original plans. However, there are situations that we can't control while on the water and that is the weather unfortunately. In this case if unpredicted weather rolls in then of course changing plans on the fly is necessary. With that said, I have always had my best days on the water by sticking to my game plan. Even more so when I am dialed into an area with consistency, this honestly has given me the upper hand as a fisherman. In these situations executing properly usually puts me in the right place at the right time to produce a great bite. for me, timing is the most important aspect of execution. I can't say this enough but get to your areas earlier rather then late! For example, if I am targeting Snook during that outgoing flush then I want to give myself the best chance by having my lines in the water during slack tide. This allows me to fish the entire falling tide from start to finish and fish the major and minor as well. A hot bite during a tide could last a long time or be over pretty quickly. In conclusion, executing and always being ready gives an angler the best chance on the water to produce fish all day long!