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Dog days of summer march on

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By Brant McMullan, Fishing Correspondent

As I boarded my boat and headed out for another day of fishing, I glanced down at my water temperature gauge. It read 89 degrees; is that possible? I dipped my hand into the bait well and the water was hot. I thought to myself, “If I were a fish, would I want to live here?” And thus it’s not hard to find reason for the slow fishing our area is experiencing.

Every year at this time I hang my head: tired from the summer’s workload, hot from the incredible heat and worried about the day’s fishing ahead. It’s tough to load a boat up with a group of enthusiastic island visitors and feel the pressure of producing a great catch and memorable experience for them. This pressure is triple-tough this time of year and forces us to be flexible and creative in our pursuit of offshore fish species.

When someone calls and wants to book a fishing trip, I let them know it is in their best interest to take a longer offshore trip of seven or nine hours if they have hopes of getting into larger game fish. 

From August through mid-September, when water temperatures are well into the 80s, many fish move farther offshore, where they can use water depth as a defense against high water temperatures. The fish find comfort at deeper depths and then rise to the surface to feed at certain times of the day before returning back to the comfort at depth. 

This movement to deeper water can also be seen in nearshore fishing as well. Many flounder move to nearshore reefs or into deep inshore holes, where the water depth provides a refuge from the heat. August flounder fishing at Yaupon Reef, McGlammery Reef and artificial reef 460 are well known for producing great action and big fish. 

Back to the offshore world, king mackerels are holding in 80-100 feet of water, along with scattered Mahi-mahi and cobia. In addition, this range is also producing grouper and big red snapper. 

As you may know, the red snapper fishery has been closed to all fishing for some time. Apparently, the conservation effort is working, as more and more red snapper are showing up off our area, mostly in 80-120 feet of water. It is a shame to have to release a big genuine red snapper, but I’ll trust our government knows what it is doing. 

Anyway, the one fishery that seems unaffected by the water temperature is the Spanish mackerel. Large Spanish 3-6 pounds are holding over structure in 50-65 feet of water, while large schools of 1- to 2-pounders are holding in 20-30 feet of water. 

That’s pretty much the scoop for this week. The good news about August is it is only four weeks. We are halfway there, and then it won’t be long before the fishing action really picks up. 

Visit www.OIFC.com for daily reports or read the Beacon next week for a recap.

 

BRANT McMULLAN is a charter captain and fishing columnist for the Beacon. Reach him at captbrant@oifishingcenter.com