June 1st officially kicks off hurricane season and without missing a beat, the very first weekend we had Tropical Storm Alex push through South Florida. This system was partially from the remnants of Hurricane Agatha, a cat 2 hurricane that hit Mexico and made its way into the Gulf. While the Tampa Bay Area only experienced rain and some wind gusts, it did lower our water temp and water clarity for a few of the following days. The water the last few weeks has been gin clear, making the beach fishing a little tougher to get a bite, however, much more exciting for stalking fish in the shallows.
Tarpon season is rolling along with double-digit hook-up days not being uncommon. There are schools of fish milling around on the shallow bars off the beach, as well as the deeper pockets in the bay around Egmont Key and the staples of the area, including Bean Point, and the Skyway, on fast moving tides. The afternoon outgoing tide has created some unforgettable fishing around the bridges and passes, while the mornings have produced a little better on the beaches. The crabs have flushed on and off the last few weeks while some strong outgoing tides have pushed only a small amount of crabs to the surface and other afternoons they have moved through the bridges in massive numbers. Live and dead shad have been a solid option for presentations on the lighter crab flushes around the bridges, while live pass crabs on the beaches have been the ticket, especially in the mornings.
The snook have certainly started moving up and down the beaches in larger numbers in early June, as some will begin spawning this month. The Full Strawberry Moon will occur on Tuesday, June 14th 2022. The week leading up to this phase and the week after the moon phase will push a ton of water into the bay and create a massive outgoing tide schedule in the afternoons, which will have the fish chewing. Tarpon will typically push offshore during this moon phase to spawn so leading up to the full moon will certainly have them hungry. Snook, however, will remain in the passes and keep to deeper, faster tidal areas to spawn during this moon phase and will also be looking for big meals in the week(s) leading up to it.
June 1st opens up for one of our fisheries most sought after table fare, Gag Grouper. Gag Grouper need to be a minimum of 24 inches to keep and eat a wide variety of baits including: diving plugs, flair hawks, and jigs, as well as live bait such as pinfish and sardines. You’ll need to fish around heavy structure for these fish and beef up your tackle to 40-60lb leader and a 4-7/0 hook. Don’t be surprised if you get taken for a ride and the “rocked” as these fish will bury themselves under cover and push their thick gill plates out making them extremely hard to catch. If you don’t use strong enough leader, it is not uncommon for the gag bite to shut off once you lose a fish. Therefore, the first few drops/casts are important.
Good Luck this Month,