Much of the offshore attention this month will be on bottom fish as anglers take advantage of the simultaneous open seasons for gag and red grouper and amberjack.
Gag reports haven’t been great this summer but anglers have been picking a few on ledges in 75 feet of water or deeper. Red grouper catches on flat rock in 60 feet or deeper have been much more consistent, and lane snapper, vermilion snapper and porgys have been good in those same areas.
Wrecks and artificial reefs in as little as 30 feet of water and on out to 90 feet are holding permit, mangrove snapper, barracudas, and Goliath grouper.
Amberjack are on wrecks and artificial reefs starting in about 70 feet of water and deeper, and are stacked up pretty good since the season has been closed for a couple of months. It’s been a sharky summer in the Gulf so far this year with blacktips, sandbars, and a few tigers around. They’re fun to catch, but not so fun to have around when your fat grouper gets bit in half on the way up!
August can be a great tarpon month in Charlotte Harbor. This is "Black water" fishing in the dark waters of central Charlotte Harbor, water that's ten to twenty feet deep, for fish in the 60 to 125 pound range. Free-lined threadfin herring, scaled sardines, or crabs are the most popular baits but pinfish, catfish and ladyfish will take these tarpon too.
August is also a good month for smaller "canal-sized" tarpon which will give themselves away by rolling on the surface in many of the local residential canals and boat basins.
Catch-and-release snook fishing has been very good, and a few more redfish are showing now as well. Remember that snook, redfish, and trout will all be catch-and-release only until next summer.
Looking for a high-quality fish dinner with a minimum of effort? Then think about going inshore fishing for mangrove snapper this month. Just about every structure in the harbor is now home to eating-sized mangrove snapper and all that's needed is a light tackle rig and either a few dozen live shrimp or some small live shiners or small pinfish. In Charlotte Harbor (state controlled waters) the minimum size limit on mangrove snapper is only 10 inches and with this small size limit it's fairly easy to catch the makings of a fish fry.