As the kids start heading back to school and the summer comes to an end, the hustle and bustle of the Florida Keys tourist season tapers off. Once again you can drive to and from Miami in less than three hours and go to your favorite eatery without making a reservation. If you are not into crowds this is the time for you!
August is one of the warmest months of the year, water temperatures can reach 90Â° in the shallows. With the high temperatures, the legendary tarpon schools of Bahia Honda and the Key West Harbor begin to dissipate as they head North for their annual migration. Although the larger schools of rolling tarpon have left, there are still plenty around the Florida Keys. The juvenile tarpon, in particular, hang around channels like Shark Key Channel. These lingering tarpon make a favorite late season sport fish.
August is also known for its red hot Bonefish bite. Capt. Jamie Connell of Flying Fish Charters works the outside edge of the Content Keys on a falling tide for large bonefish. He specializes in sight casting the bonefish on fly.
The large schools of Permit that were gathered on the wrecks and reefs are also on the move, back into the shallows, they can still be found on the wrecks but with less frequency.
Offshore the schools of migratory fish have packed on some size and weight. While fishing it is always a good idea to search for debris and weed lines floating on the surface. Fish like Mahi Mahi are attracted to the floating fragments because of the small bait fish that gather beneath.
When heading offshore this time of the year, it’s also not a bad idea to have some chicken rigs for deep dropping in four hundred to six hundred feet of water. You might be pleasantly surprised by what you drag up from way down deep: Large Tile fish, Snowy Grouper along with Rose fish are some of the usual suspects.
If you are looking for reef fish I suggest you work the outside edge of the reef, from fifty to one hundred fifteen feet of water. At those depths, you will find some late spawning Mutton Snapper as well as Grey Snappers. The bite is usually better in the late afternoon.
At this time of the year, I like to get an extra early start, that way I can have an early finish. I try to avoid the midday heat. Being poorly prepared for the August heat in the Florida Keys can lead to a miserable day on the water, not to mention a miserable next few days. Make sure you stay covered up with proper clothing and plenty of sunscreen.
August is all about being in the water, an ideal day for me consists of working the blue water and or doing some reef and wreck fishing early on. I like to follow that up by doing some spearfishing around midday in order to cool off.
Hogfish, mistakenly called Hog Snapper, are a favorite target for the spear fisherman in the Florida Keys. Known for its white flaky meat, Hogfish are rated number one in table fare. Most Hogfish are harvested by way of spear fishing but can also be targeted by using live shrimp on a light jig.
Contrary to popular belief, Hogfish is not a snapper but a Wrasse native to the western Atlantic Ocean. They can easily be found in the local shallow reefs as well as in the surrounding channels.
The regulations are 12’’ to the fork of the tail and five per person. Please keep a close eye in the regulations since they are talking about change coming down the pipeline.
Lobster is on everyone’s mind as the season opens up the first week of August. Make sure to bring a net, tickle stick, and measuring device with you. Don’t forget to check every ledge and rock where the mother lode may be hiding. But keep in mind the coral reef is where the Lobster live. Be sure to use care when free diving or scuba diving to avoid grabbing, kicking, and breaking off the reef.
In the upper keys the fishing is always a bit different because of their proximity to the everglades.
Capt. George Clark of Rodeo Charters works the mouth of the creeks for Snook, Red fish, Jack and juvenile Tarpon with an occasional large sea trout working the area. He also tells me you can expect a late run of bigger tarpon moving thru the Everglades on the banks west of the park on the edge of the Gulf. His bait of choice this time of year is finger mullet and large schools of Redfish can be found with them around Flamingo area.
BEST BET KEYS
With the lobster season opening up in the first week of August you have to take the plunge and chase some tails.
You do not have to be a scuba diver to take part, Lobsters can be found in many shallow reefs and ledges in just a few feet of water.
Summertime in the Florida Keys is notorious for flat calm conditions that make for incredible visibility.
Along with lobster, you can easily find Hogfish, Snapper, and Grouper.
You cannot go wrong spending a day in the water harvesting Lobsters and Hogfish.
Be aware when diving to not damage the coral reef while chasing down dinner.
Please take time to read the rules and regulations and make sure your diver down flag is well exposed!