June has come and gone, with well over 150 Tarpon landed in the 60 days ending on July 1. Not bad for a season that had some definite ups and downs. July brings a more quiet and slow approach to Tarpon fishing. Don’t be fooled by the hype put out by out-of-town guides. The out-of-towners are gone in July, but the fish remain well into August. The fishing is definitely a bit slower, more relaxed, and a little more weather dependent but you can expect good numbers and some very large fish to still be caught. Tarpon fishing in July focuses primarily on the beach in the early morning and evening so it combines great with other types of fishing around the middle of the day. A combo trip with Shark, Goliath Grouper, or even a near shore trip can make for an action packed long summer day. Already this month (I am writing this a bit late due to a packed fishing schedule) we have had 6 hour morning trips with 4 or more fish to the boat with even single anglers on board. That is a few minutes of fishing and several hours of CATCHING! As the month winds down, so will your chances of a getting a big Tarpon in this region of Florida until next spring.
Snook and Redfish have been lighting up great on moving tides in the morning and evening. Even mid-day Reds under the mangroves can keep things pretty exciting. You wont find the huge schools of Reds typical of Spring, Fall, and Winter but you will find an ample supply of hefty fish to about 15lbs. July can be one of the most exciting Snook fishing times of the year. The Snook are stacking up in huge numbers in the passes, on the beach, and in strategic staging or feeding locations around gateways to the back country. If you time your approach and don’t push the fish around too much with the boat before they turn on you are in for a big surprise when the tides hits the correct stage. I like to refer to these times as “fireworks” because the schools of big snook are popping so vigorously and loudly on the surface that it looks like someone throwing fireworks in the water. Its not unusual on an evening outgoing tide to have a school of fish feeding near the boat with 10-20 Snook attacking baits at the surface at the exact same time. Already this summer we have logged numerous Snook over 20lbs and as many as 60-70 fish over 25″ in a single afternoon. If you have enough time and the weather permits, you can target fish at each of the passes and around the beaches following the tide stage from Venice Inlet to Redfish and Captiva Pass. This is where having a top quality boat and an ample supply of varied baits, as well as the local knowledge of a top quality, busy guide will pay out in spades.
Near-shore action in July should follow a similar pattern to that of June. Good numbers of BIG Mangrove Snapper have been a reliable treat for both light a light tackle show down as well as offering some of the finest table fare offered in Florida. These mild, flaky fish will give just about any species a fish a run for their money when it goes to food quality. Days with average sizes for full limits of Snapper over 5-8lbs (with the big fish up to 15lbs) were common during June and should stay that way throughout July. Don’t be fooled by the size and weight of these fish, a 15lb Snapper will give you a serious run for your money on light tackle. These fish are some of the most cunning to be found anywhere, so be prepared for a sporty and frustrating times out on the reef. King Mackerel, Spanish Mackerel, Grouper, Cobia, Amberjack, big Jack Crevalle, Barracuda, and Sharks are all also welcome guests on near shore trips. Often times we will fish several different lines covering the water column to allow for the opportunity to catch multiple species all at once. Having more fish on that we have anglers to hold the rods is a welcome and common problem during July on near shore waters of the Gulf.
The warm summer waters of Summer indicate a congregation period for Goliath Grouper in and around Southwest Florida. What this means is that many of the giants that would be found spread out around areas of heavy structure will begin to congregate in just a few areas. This translates to a wide open bite on BIG fish if you hit the right spots on the right tide. Every year the largest concentrations of giant Goliaths found anywhere stack up within easy reach on just about any weather. If you are looking to challenge yourself against one of the toughest adversaries to be found, then the Goliath Grouper trip is for you. Few dedicated Goliath trips will see less than several big fish landed, and some half day trips see numbers as high as 20 fish. Growing to over 600lbs, the Goliath is the supreme king of near-shore structure and will be sure to provide you with a brawl you wont soon forget. We have been working on perfecting some new tackle and rigging techniques that we have developed from our Big Game experience that are proving to be the key to high levels of success on these Giants while also allowing us to run less drag pressure, making these Giants accessible to larger audience. Don’t be intimidated by what you see on Youtube and TV, you can handle these fish! Give it a shot and you are in for an action packed, knock-down, drag-out fight you wont forget. To quote many clients in the past: “Its the longest 5 minutes of your life!”
July continues to bring one last thing that I am always very excited for. More than I look forward to Tarpon, Kings, Cobia, or any of the other species in the summer I look forward to the drag screaming while a client is hooked up to a big…..scary……SHAAARRRKKKKKKKK! On a recent trip we landed a 300lb+ Bull Shark on 40lb spinning gear while jigging for Amberjack. The sharks are here, they are hungry, and they can’t seem to leave us alone when we can get out on the Gulf side. Nothing can compare to the battle you will have with one of the most magnificent creatures to grace the worlds oceans. Look for lots of action on varied species and sizes from 75-150lb Black tip and Spinner sharks to giant Hammerhead, Bulls, and Tigers. From just off the beach to distant offshore grounds we offer the most experienced and thorough shark charters to be found in the anywhere. Few captains specialize in this field, but I can say I not only specialize in it but that it is absolutely my favorite trip to run with clients of all ages, ability levels, and walks of life. Please remember that all Shark Charters with Another Keeper are 100% catch and release only. No shark will be killed on these trips for any reason unless it is deemed to be a new IGFA world record (the sole discretion of the captain). If you think you have experienced shark fishing before, think again. LIght Tackle, great action, and techniques such as live-baiting, Key West style chumming, and even Kite Fishing can make these trips more fun than one can imagine!
There is certainly no better way to spend time with family, friends, or just to relax away from it all than fishing the pristine waters of Englewood, Venice, Captiva, Boca Grande, Charlotte Harbor, and the Gulf of Mexico. If you are looking for fantastic inshore or offshore action, day or night, then you have come to the right place. Book your trip with Another Keeper Charters and you can rest assured that you will not only enjoy great fishing with Southwest Florida’s premier fishing guide and charter service, but you will also enjoy the company of arguably the friendliest Captain in the business!