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Week of July 10: Beware of thieving barracudas and goliath groupers

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Our fishing guide, "Snookman" Landry, sent us this photo of his pal, Armando, posing with the largest of the mangrove snappers he recently caught. 

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Today’s (July 10) forecast calls for partly cloudy skies with isolated thunderstorms expected at 5 pm, SW winds at 10 mph, and 0 to one-foot waves. Afternoon thunderstorms are anticipated throughout the week.

Our fishing guide, “Snookman” Wayne Landry provides the following fishing report:

“Good morning, all my fishing friends and family! I hope everyone had a great weekend. The weather was nice, but extremely hot. This week is supposed to be likely the same: hot temps, west breezes, and calm seas. There has been little change in the action at the inlet over the last two weeks. It’s still slow, but there are some fish being caught if you have the time to stick it out and fish the high tides with the clearer water. The water temps are still where they should be now, 84 to 85, mostly clear but just a touch silted on the south side. There are also plenty of small baitfish in and around the inlet and along the jetties and shorelines. Schools of glass minnows are starting to show up, along with greenies. Here’s the breakdown:

North jetty: Here, there are catch-and-release snook at the jetty tip on the outgoing tide on mojarras and small croakers, but most have been picked off by the monster Goliath groupers before they can be landed. Blue runners, jack crevalle and catfish are present on cut baits.  Small mangrove snapper are showing up in the rocks at the tip, but most are still too small to keep. Live or cut greenies will entice a bite from them.

Mutton snapper are possible here on live baits. There have been just a few caught over the last two weeks, most are too small, but a couple around 22 to 24 inches were caught. High tide has been mostly slow. Mangroves around the pilings are your best bet, live greenies or cut greenies is the bait, and they will bite live shrimp. Sunday, I saw a anglers with good Spanish mackerel bites on the beach side of the jetty. Live greenies were the bait of choice. Along with the Spanish, there were a few big barracudas attempting to eat the macs while the anglers were trying to land them. Most of the time the barracuda won and got the meal. This time of the year and with the very warm water the barracudas show up and are hungry for a quick snack.

South jetty: As I mentioned earlier, the water has been a tad silty with lingering water from the Sebastian River. It just doesn't clean out sometimes. On Sunday, folks were catching a lot of pesky catfish at the tip on the outgoing tide, sometimes two at a time on the double drop rigs! They were also catching black margates, blue runners and jack crevalle. Any cut bait worked for the bite. On the incoming tide along the jetty and rocky shoreline,  they caught small mangrove snappers on greenies, live or cut up. Most were too small, but some were keepers. Catch-and-release snook are around to keep things interesting. Live mojarras or croakers work best. Not too much else over here.

T-Dock area: Here the water is a bit cleaner, and there are baitfish attracting predator fish. Mangrove snapper, lane snapper and mutton snapper are being caught in good numbers. Most of the mangroves are still too small, but some are good enough to go home. The lane snappers being caught are good enough to go home, as they only have to be eight inches minimum; muttons, on the other hand, have been too small and have to go back. Minimum on them is 18 inches. Also, back here, anglers have competition with barracudas and goliath grouper. They are present when the snappers show up and will try to eat your catch if you don't get them in quick enough. On Sunday, I watched a guy reel in a mutton about 12 or so inches, and as he took it out of the water a big barracuda swiped at it and cut it up pretty good. He unhooked then tossed it back in and that same barracuda shot out from under the pier and grabbed the poor snapper right in front of us as it hit the water. Be quick in reeling them in. The groupers do hang out under the pier as well and won't hesitate to grab your fish while you're trying to land it. The catch-and-release snook action here has declined because nobody is fishing them. And that's a good thing! 

Surf area, both sides: There hasn't been a lot of folks fishing the surf  due to the intense heat and lack of a breeze off the water. The south side water has been a little cloudy, but if you can find some clear water, you might find some mangrove snappers along the coquina ridge just south of the inlet. Live baits of any kind will work. Also, with cut shrimp you might find some whiting. Fish the inner bar and the trough for them. The north side has been clearer, but is shallower than the south side. Look for the schools of glass minnows in the surf, as they are coming from the north. If you find them, toss small jigs, swim baits or any live baits out and there just might be some catch-and-release snook, redfish, Spanish mackerel around them. The minnow attract everything.

Keep your eye out for the tarpon, as they, too, cruise the beaches this time of the year looking for action. Live baits, plugs, jigs and swim baits might get you a hookup. A friend of mine who cruised the beach in his boat said the tarpon are running in the 75 to 100-pound range. A ton of fun if you get hooked up. Remember, with tarpon, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) rule requires that any fish over 40 inches must not be removed from the water for any reason. If you catch one from the beach, you need to get in the water with it for a safe release. 

That's it in a nutshell. Better than it has been. Grab your gear, bait, water, shade and enjoy all the inlet and the park have to offer.  Cheers, everyone!” — Snookman.