June 21st was the official first day of summer, although the weather pattern has been very summer-like for the past few weeks. When hot weather arrives, it changes the pattern of the fish; and with water temperatures hovering around 80 degrees, anglers need to change their tactics and fishing patterns as well.
The warmer water species, such as mahi, are spread out and a little more difficult to find, but not impossible. Mahi have been reported as close to shore as 10 miles, not unusual for this time of year. It’s a great opportunity for those with smaller boats to get a taste of what it’s like fishing near the Gulf Stream on a short trip out of the inlet.
The two most important things when seeking near shore mahi are finding the bait and finding some structure. Both of these will help your cause, but providing the fish something they are actually interested in eating will help you even more. Areas around Ten-Mile Rock, Dallas Rock and the Dredge normally hold plenty of bait this time of year and also produce catches of mahi regularly, although normally not as fast paced as areas a bit further offshore.
Small ballyhoo rigged on blue and white Seawitches are a great bait to use. Live menhaden, slow trolled, will also draw interest. Even though wire rigs are not needed for the mahi, wire is suggested, as there are many other toothy critters in the same areas waiting to eat your offering as well.
Near shore, the Spanish mackerel bite has been good along the beach, but with the hot weather, it shuts off rather quickly once the sun starts rising. Though some fish are being caught during the heat of the day, the better fishing is from sunup till 9-10 a.m., when the fish head into deeper water. Clark Spoons trolled on No. 1 planers in 20-30 feet of water are what most anglers are using, with gold Clark Spoons out fishing the silver almost 2-1. Sight casting is still working, but, as a lot of fishermen found out last week, when the fish are schooling and jumping doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll be biting.
Pier anglers are finding some Spanish earlier and late in the day on Got-Cha Plugs. Some keeper flounder are being caught around the pilings on both strip baits and live minnows. Bottom fishermen using shrimp are getting a few pompano and Virginia mullet.
Inshore, the fishing has slowed but is still good, with both flounder and red drum being found around the docks. Sheepshead fishing has been picking up for those targeting them with fiddler crabs. Of course, fishing around the pilings is better during the week, when there is less boat traffic around. Black drum have also been caught in the same areas.