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Open waters.

Floating rafts of life in the form of anchovies drift along the beaches this time of year. You can net them for offshore chum bait for snapper, but your attention may be diverted by the tarpon schools which hound these bait schools. Either from the beach, with sharp casts to surfacing tarpon, or from a boat with gentle approaches, these tarpon can take you to the cleaners or make you a hero for a very short moment. Remember, tarpon over 40 inches in length are not, according to FWC regulations, to be taken from the water for picture posing.

The bait life at the beaches in the summer also attracts schools of bonito, kingfish, permit, big jacks and sharks--at times moving very close to the shoreline--which can erupt into one of the great moments of angling: the feeding frenzy. It can be a bloodfest and a lot of fun to witness and participate in. Which brings up the matter of access. Kayakers and beach walkers get quick, direct access to the action if they can locate it, while boaters have to get there from the nearest inlet. Casters and kayakers have limited mobility from beach to beach, but scouting beaches the night before a trip for the presence of the dark clouds of bait can often put you on the scene faster. The bait might hold for a few days at a beach before moving on. Boaters of course have the advantage of motoring around for a few miles to find the action.

Up and down the region's range of beaches, you'll also find snook nosing around in the wavelets, and in clear waters, they are a sight to behold and cast to with flies and light lures and jigs. Spanish mackerel, too, can invade the waves and literally chase the baits onto the sand.

One summer highlight in the pelagic scene here is the wahoo bite. The visiting schools of bonito become prey for wahoo when they're in the blue water and are worth fishing around. The full and new moons on July 1 and 15, respectively, are good times to troll for wahoo either around those bonito or over pronounced ledges of reeflines. The drill is to leave before dawn and be trolling at sun up. Last year, there were great bites during the July, August and September moon phases off Boynton all the way up to Jensen Beach. If you do come across floating debris or weeds at any depth of blue water, don't fail to fish deep below it for wahoo and dolphin.

Red snapper season--if any days are opened to keep the species in Atlantic waters--will begin this month. Any recreational season would begin the second Friday in July for consecutive weekends. Otherwise in bottom fishing, very large lane snappers have been caught from Palm Beach north, and if you can stretch your day until dark, mangrove snapper fishing turns on at sunset. Short bottom fishing trips, in fact, from the late afternoon until sunset can pay a good return on the time spent.

A very good way to learn more fast about local fishing--especially if you're relatively new to the scene--is to join the angling community that invests in its resources. There are two such marine-community events of note in July in the area. The Martin County Artificial Reef Fund, responsible for the creation of numerous local artificial reefs for anglers and divers, holds its annual Reef Builders Fishing Tournament on Saturday, July 11. The captains meeting is July 10 at tournament headquarters the Twisted Tuna in Salerno. See mcareefs.org for more.

The Andrew "Red" Harris Foundation is an organization formed last year to honor the memory of Andrew Harris by building artificial reefs to improve marine habitat. Andrew Harris was a young Jupiter resident who was killed in 2014 by a boat while snorkeling. The foundation will host a weekend of family fun, including a lionfish derby and a paddleboard challenge, July 10 and 11, and the event will culminate in the placing of 80 specially made reef structures off North Palm Beach in approximately 80 feet of water. See andrewredharrisfoundation.org for more info.

HUNTING Archery season starts Aug. 1 in Zone A, which includes fall turkey hunting by bow. If you're lucky, you might be able to pick up a leftover Alligator Permit as of July 1 for the hunting season. The alligator hunting season first phase begins Aug. 15. Dove Club Phase I applications begin July 20. Many Leftover and Reissue periods for quota hunt permits begin this month, so check the dates in case you missed initial phases of the permit process.

BEST BET SOUTHEAST

It's that time of the year to take advantage of calm weather and long days of light to catch the yellowfin tuna bite on the east side of the Gulf Stream. The trip requires proper planning and knowledge of all rules and laws, including the need to check in with Bahamas customs before fishing. But the summer-season's chance to catch yellowfin tuna on your own boat is some of the best sport available to anglers in this region.
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Title Annotation:SOUTHEAST
Author:Conway, David
Publication:Florida Sportsman
Date:Jul 1, 2015
Words:855
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