August gives us the peak of the summer heat, and summer squalls are usually an afternoon occurrence. This August was as wet and windy as any in recent memory. One good thing is that water temperatures were kept in check, meaning that fishing was improved by having the waters less than 90 degrees for most of the month.
We saw some great fishing this month, with the weather being the biggest factor in fishing success. Spanish Mackerel were schooling off the end of the pier, and fishermen were able to get some good Macks using a variety of methods. Cut baits fished under a bobber, small live fish fished mid-water, and lures were the best producers. A few fishermen connected with large fish, only to have all their line taken off, with no chance of turning or finding out what the big fish was.
A number of Tarpon were hooked this month, and these prehistoric air-breathers put on quite a show once they feel the sting of a hook in their jaw. A leaping explosion of silver followed by powerful pulling runs is usually capped by a thrown or pulled hook. Tarpon will take a live fish under a float, a dead fish on the bottom, or a fish-head with equal ardor. It’s difficult to keep one under control here, as their sheer size, from 60-100+ lbs. allows them to wrap a buoy or piling to get free.
The Mangrove Snapper bite was good this August, with keeper fish over 10″ taken on a regular basis. These Snappers will bite small live baits or cut baits with equal relish. A small circle hook with perhaps a split-shot for weight helps to keep these fish form being shy to take a bite.
Pompano were seen mostly in the mornings, with successful fishermen using both cut baits or the “Crazy Jigs” we sell in the tackle shop. The “Crazy Jig” is a local invent, that consists of a hook surrounded by colorful lead, and an attached teaser hook with a colorful skirt. The lure is fished up-and-down, and as the lure falls, it flutters irresistibly to the Pompano. The fish almost always hit the small attached teaser hook on the way down.
SheepsHead were seen cruising the pilings, grazing and nibbling on small crabs, barnacles, and shrimp. A small stout hook with little weight is usually the best way to fish for the SheepsHead. They have powerful jaws and teeth like a horse, but their ability to strip a hook is legendary. Watching the line move as they bite is more reliable than trying to feel the take. If you feel the bite, you are usually too late.
We saw quite a few undersize Cobia this month. Keepers must be at least 33 inches, and that is a powerful fish indeed. Cobia are known to be curious, not the least shy, and have an explosive nature once they figure out that they have been hooked. Many lost rods seen flying off the pier like a javelin are no doubt due to large Cobia. The Cobia will take a live or dead crab, live or dead fish, and even a lure placed in front of a Cobia nosing around the pier pilings. On most piers, etiquette dictates that the person who spots the Cobia first gets the first chance at trying to get him to strike. Other fishermen must wait until the spotter gets tangled or has his rig ignored.
RedFish were around the pier this month, with slot-sized fish from 18″-27″ seen on a few occasions. Reds usually travel in schools, and the tell-tale sign of a school working is to see a “mud” or churned up area that moves along as the fish work their noses and mouths into the bottom en masse.
Spotted SeaTrout showed up after dark around the pier, but were usually ignoring and baits until after midnight. The key to catching them is to stay persistent until the fish decide to bite, and also to down-size the line / leader to keep them from being shy to the bite. Small lures can be very productive on the Spotted SeaTrout, especially when the waters are full of small frye.
Other fish seen this month included Key West Grunt, Jack Crevalle, SeaRobin, StingRays, Sharks of several species, Silver Perch, Black SeaBass, Whiting, SpadeFish, Blue Runner, CowFish, FileFish, Lane Snapper, and ToadFish.
Snook season opens September 1st. Keepers in the Gulf of Mexico must be between 28″ and 32″, with a bag limit of one fish per day. The Snook season will stay open until Dec 1st. Fishermen here do not need a Snook endorsement on their license as they would other places, as it is included in the fishing fees.
Clearwater is again hosting the Super Boat races this September, with the Offshore Racing boats taking to the waters off the end of Pier 60 on Sunday, 27 September. There will be a fireworks show off the end of Pier 60 on Saturday 26 September around 9PM. The racing Pits will be at the Downtown Clear Water Harbor Marina, and there will be a Seafood Festival, Boat Parade, and Clearwater’s Cleveland Street District will host a meet-and-greet with the drivers and pit crews, with live music and more!
Pier 60 will be closed for fishing from Saturday, 26 Sept. from 4PM until 5PM Sunday after the conclusion of the races and associated clean-up.
There will be a fireworks show at 9PM Saturday off the end of Pier 60.
Good Luck Fishing!