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Week of July 5: Two-day red snapper season coming July 8 and 9

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The forecast today calls for partly cloudy skies, a high of 86 degrees, East-Southeast winds becoming East, and two to three-foot seas.

Our trusty fishing guide, “Snookman” Wayne Landry, gives us the lowdown for angling activity last week through Independence Day:

“Good morning all my fishing fanatics. I hope everyone had a great, fun and safe Independence Day weekend! The weather was great, even though it was sweltering heat, but we had a nice breeze off the ocean to keep it kind of coolish. Here’s the scoop: Water quality is still an issue due to stormwater from tributaries in the Indian River Lagoon mixing with the saltwater. Fish avoid this water, especially when the temperature changes and creates what I call snot weed, It  is slimy and coats your rigs and bait while fishing. But at least it is disappearing. Last week, fishing was slow but picked up over the weekend.

North jetty: After a slow week, the water began clearing up over the weekend and some of the smaller baitfish and mullet returned along the beach. Sunday and Monday there were nice Spanish mackerel caught on both sides of the jetty, on small crappie jigs and gotcha lures. Blue runners and smaller jack crevalles were biting - on either tide - didn't matter. The mangrove snapper have shown up again with some nice 11 to 12-inch fish being caught on cut baits and small greenies cast netted along the jetty. Incoming tide is better for them as they are being caught at the tip along the rocks, and inside between the pilings. I talked to one angler last Friday who was fishing for permit around the tip on the early outgoing tide with live crabs floated out in the rip, and he said he had hooked three but lost two to the rocks and the third to a Goliath grouper. He said the fish were about 10 to 15 pounds. Sheepshead are still around the pilings on the incoming tides with live fiddler crabs. 

South Jetty: Dirty water and the weeds and the snot weeds have made fishing tough. It stems from SE winds up to 15 mph we have been seeing all week. Not too much being caught, except for a few black margates, blue runners and the pesky catfish. The water is awful.

T-Dock: Slow here. About the only fish being caught are undersized snappers of different varieties: mutton, lane, mangrove and schoolmaster — all on cut baits. It’s weedy back here, too. 

Surf area: The North side the water is a lot cleaner and on the high tides, early, you might find  whiting and croakers biting on cut baits. If you run into mullet or any other baitfish on the beach, snook, redfish, tarpon and large jack crevalles are possible. They like to run the bait schools along the beach this time of year when it isn't too rough. The  South side water is too dirty and weeded up to fish it. 

Offshore: Expect crowds on July 8 and 9 when the two-day red snapper season opens. Charter captains tell me that there are fish out there to be caught! The fish are being caught anywhere from 65 feet  on out at all the reefs and ledges. Use live pilchards, grunts, grunt plugs and cut squid to entice them — also baited jigs dropped down are getting a few bites. Most of the fish were 8 to 10 pounds, with several up to 20 pounds being caught. Also look for mangrove snapper, which are setting up for their July full moon spawn, along with mutton snappers. Use the same baits for these species as the reds, as they all like the same baits, but a bit smaller for the mangs and muttons. Also, there is a decent bite on kingfish in the 75 to 120-foot area around the bait pods. Look for diving birds to locate them. Sardines, live pilchards, live mullet and slow trolled baits are working best. Most of the fish are 8 to 15 pounds, with some up to 30 pounds. Another species that are playing are the "reef donkeys", or amberjacks. Vertical jigs and live grunts are taking them in 200 to 250 feet of water. The fish are averaging about 20 to 25lbs with some to 40 pounds. 

 It's going to be hot. Be sure to hydrate and protect yourself with an umbrella or at least a hat.

The last two times I was working the North jetty, there were two heat exhaustion-related medical emergencies. Thankfully, family members kept them alert until paramedics arrived. Safety first has always been my motto, and always will be. Everybody have a great week, stay well be safe!”