By Captain Tom Van Horn
As many of you know our sunshine this past week has be in the liquid form, as Tropical Storm Debby finally moves out of Florida on her way up the eastern seaboard. Debby is our forth named storm of the year, and we can only hope we get a break and the seas settle down and allow us to fish offshore. 2012 marks my 15th year of keeping a fishing log and composing these reports, and there are typically two different phenomenon in July directly affecting our fishing conditions on Florida’s Space Coast.
First, during the early part of July a coldwater upwelling called the Labrador Current often moves in from the depths of the Atlantic chilling the water column from the bottom up. This phenomenon is naturally caused by the Coriolis Effect http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coriolis_effect. The intensity of the upwelling varies from year to year, and it is impossible to predict. The Labrador Current 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, which we are already experiencing, is the impact of tropical weather systems (summer squalls) as they brush up against the Florida coast on their way north. Again, we know how tough it is to predict hurricanes, but these tropical systems can kick up some serious seas, even from a thousand miles away.
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 typically 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.
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 coldwater influx, some blue water species will move inshore along the 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 midsummer cobia run.
Along the beaches 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 and the sea turtle hatch. Remember, snook are out of season June, July, and August, so if you target them, please handle and release them with extreme care.
In 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, and at night. Once the sun grows hot and the top water bite slows, switch to fishing jigs like the 3“DOA CAL Shad on the deeper edges of the flats. Also July and August is the time of year when large schools of ladyfish and smaller sea trout shadow the schools of glass minnows in the deeper water. Last but not least, 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 will provide a tasty meal.
As always, 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.
As always, if you have any questions or need more information, please contact me.
Good luck and good fishing,
Captain Tom Van Horn
Mosquito Coast Fishing Charters
407-416-1187 on the water
Book a charter, and let’s go fishing.
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