July’s Fishing Forecast
July on the Indian River Lagoon Coast of Florida equates to hot daily temperatures and hot fishing. Although the fishing in July can be hot, two different natural events can play a roll in its quality, and predicting the degree and influence of them is anyone’s guess. In the Atlantic Ocean off of the east coast of Florida during the early part of July a cold-water upwellings known as the Labrador Current move in from the depths of the Atlantic chilling the water column from the bottom up. The influx of the upwelling varies from year to year. The Labrador Current is caused by the Coriolis Effect and the earth’s rotation, and it has been known to chill ocean water temperatures as low as 50 degrees on bad years, and have very little effect of good ones. The second major influence is the impact of tropical weather systems (Summer Squalls) as they brush up against the Florida coast on their way north. Again, we all know how tough it can be to predict hurricanes, but these tropical systems can kick up some serious seas even from a thousand miles away.
Inshore on the lagoons, sea trout and redfish are the primary targets on the flats. Concentrate your efforts in areas of mullet schools using top water plugs in early morning and late afternoon hours, or at night. Once the sun grows hot and the top water bite slows, switch to live bait (pigfish) or DOA CAL Jigs fished on the deeper edges of the flats. Also, summer is the time of year when large schools of ladyfish and smaller sea trout shadow the schools of glass minnows in the deeper water. Finally, look for the pompano schools to be moving into the shadows around the causeway bridges where a well-placed jig tipped with either sand fleas or fresh shrimp can provide a tasty meal. You will know if the pompano are around if you see them skipping across the surface of the water when spooked.
Offshore, the Gulf Stream water temperatures are fairly consistent in July and August and if the summer squalls stay away, they are excellent months to target yellow fin tuna for those willing to make the long run east (70 to 150 miles). July also marks the beginning of the mid-summer doldrums bringing calmer seas, making the long ride to the other side of the Gulf Stream smoother and accessible even for smaller boats. When planning a long trip across the stream, be sure to play it smart by establishing a float plan and carrying the proper safety equipment.
Bottom fishing will remain good in July if the cold water stays away, but when it begins to push in, many species will either move in closer to shore seeking warmer water, or hightail it south. Depending on the magnitude of the cold-water influx, some blue water species will move inshore along the near-shore reefs and wrecks like Chris Benson, 8A, and Pelican Flats, with kingfish, dolphin, and cobia serving as the primary species. Also, cooler water has the tendency to push manta rays up on to the sandy shoals off of the Space Center, thus creating a mid-summer cobia run.
Along the beach pods of pogies (Atlantic menhaden), greenies (thread fin herring), and glass minnows (bay anchovies) move in close to the beach bringing large tarpon, smoker kings, blacktip and spinner sharks, jack crevalle, and redfish with them. Also, look for snook fishing in the surf to improve as we get closer to the commencement of the fall bait run. Remember, snook are out of season June, July, and August, so if you target them, please handle and release them with extreme care.
Remember, nature holds the upper hand in setting the stage for July and August, so we just have to play it by ear and catch some fish, and if you hold your mouth right you may just catch a love bug or two.
As always, if you have questions or need more information, please contact me.
Good luck and good fishing,
Captain Tom Van Horn
Mosquito Coast Fishing Charters