Here are a couple of things people ask me all the time. “Is getting wet a necessary part of catching big fish,” and “where and when can you find big fish in the summertime?” It may sound like we’re talking about two different things, but if you read on you’ll see how they can sometimes be related.
Because of the intense heat (average high temperature is 90 degrees!) this time of year along the Indian River Lagoon (IRL), fish seek out places to find relief from the heat, and generally, deep water isn’t an option because the IRL’s average depth is only three feet!
As a guide, I’d seek out docks, bridges, piers, and any other shady niches that provide comfort for fish as the days grew hotter. I also learned the importance of being on the water well before the sun rose too high when fishing the flats for red drum, spotted seatrout and snook. Fish would often leave the deeper water early, go into the shallower water to feed, and then head back to brisk water as the sun and water temperatures rose.
Over time, discovering wade fishing with my clients was a cooler option this time of year. They enjoyed getting out of the hot boat and into the refreshing water for a spell, and it is much calmer especially along Florida’s Atlantic beaches. Of course, be careful of stingrays, sharks, crabs or any critters or things that may be hazardous to your body.
Have you ever been overwhelmed trying to land a big fish on undersized tackle? If so, you understand how difficult and downright challenging it is to do it, especially around any type of structure. There have been times when I found myself chasing fish that were either taking all my line or going under water, over or around structure.
One particular time comes to mind when guiding my friend, Chad Helping. Chad hoped to catch a large black drum. A perfect cast was made, placing his bait, half of a blue crab, on the Indian River Lagoon’s bottom between a cement piling and a couple thick steel cables running into the water. Within seconds, he hooked a large fish, and did his best to keep it out and away from the structure. After a minute or two it looked as if the fish had hopelessly wrapped Chad’s line around the structure. In an effort to save the day, I jumped into the Lagoon with Chad’s rod and reel, and swam under and around the cables until the line came free. From the water, I handed Chad back his tackle, and after an extended battle he landed his trophy — a 54-pound black drum.
Getting wet may not be the key to your fishing success, but I’ve found it to be the key to cooling off in the heat, and at times, landing oversized fish on undersized tackle. Try it; you may find it enjoyable!