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The right bight.

Bights are like small bays with relatively shallow bottoms often littered with downed trees, making navigation tricky. Normally accessible by only the shallowest drafting boats, morning high tides allow anglers with larger boats to reach these productive shallows. In August, water temperatures here can approach 90 degrees on windless high tide days. And though it may seem counterproductive, the shallow bights south of Everglades City host fantastic opportunities for late summer snook, redfish and trout. Phenomenal fishing grounds most of the year, by late summer these areas are fish magnets. Most of the bights hold snook and reds in good numbers throughout all tide stages. The key is to know where in the bight the fish will stage on a particular tide.

Lower tide stages will find snook and trout as well as a few reds staging on the outer points and hard bottom areas. Noisy walk-the-dog-type surface lures, or a live bait beneath a popping cork, will locate where the fish are holding. Snook and redfish tend to be shallow, whereas trout seek dropoffs and sandy transitions from the hard bottom. Small depressions in the bottom or downed trees attract fish waiting on the tide to rise. Snook will gather in large numbers around these points as the spawn begins to wind down. Snook bite from a broad range of sizes from 20 inches to 20 pounds. Heavier tackle helps prevent the heartbreak of losing a true trophy snook.

As the tide continues to rise, fish will begin to follow the bait into the shallows of the bight. Deeper troughs and oyster bar points become likely holding spots, especially for larger snook and redfish. At these higher tide stages, red-fish can often be found in larger schools as August progresses. Catches of 20 to 30 redfish in a single stop are not uncommon. Scented soft-plastic jigs or the venerable gold spoon are most likely to draw the bigger strikes. Be prepared to move as fast as the tide to keep the bite going. Remember that as the tide rises, the strike zone is narrowed considerably, so your casting skills need to be close to pinpoint precision. You may also choose to toss live bait or the locally favored cut ladyfish which will draw fish from under the overhanging mangroves.

Another key to fishing the bights is clearer water. The bights closest to river mouths always seem clearest, like Crab Key Bight just south of the Chatham and Hueston rivers or Wood Key Cove just north of Lostmans River. When conditions permit sight fishing, the back walls of these bights are nothing short of stellar. Quiet, stealthy approaches and well-placed casts are critical to sight fishing success.

At the very top of the tide, you may find yourself in the mouth of one of the many creeks located in the back of the bights like those found in Tom's Bight. These creeks become feeding stations just as the tide starts to fall. Snook, reds and smaller tarpon position themselves to take advantage of bait that is whisked out of the protective confines of flooded mangroves. A word of caution: Don't stay too long during the falling tide in the bights as water levels are deceptively fast in dropping.

Bights offer shallow anglers some great late season action for almost all available inshore species. Barring interference from tropical weather systems, they will remain fishable throughout the month. Early morning, when tides are rising, is by far the easiest time to navigate, but don't discount falling tides as fish movements will be reversed. Great days to attack the bights according to The Florida Sportsman Fishing Planner are August 10 through 15.

HUNTING August marks the start of bow season for hunters in Zone A. Antlered and antlerless deer, bearded turkeys and a host of small game are all in season beginning August 3. The heat of the day will find most game seeking refuge from the sweltering August temperatures. For your best chance of success, try to catch deer moving from nighttime feeding zones to daytime bedding areas. Most of these areas will be clearly marked by well-worn trails. A stealthy approach with importance on scent control is an absolute must. For hunters looking to take advantage of public lands, try the north end of the Big Cypress WMA. Proper scouting is also important as it allows for determining movements of deer for a given wind direction.

* BEST BET

10,000 ISLANDS

Nearshore wrecks and reefs off Naples and Marco Island can be hot beds of action in August. Calm winds allow for smaller boats to venture a few miles out for mixed bag fishing of trout, mackerel, snapper, a few grouper and some trophy-sized breeder snook. Keep your eyes open for returning tarpon and some cobia. Live bait will get the most strikes, but artificials can also produce, allowing anglers to cover the entire water column. A steady chum of either the ground block type or handfuls of live pilchards will get the game started and keep highly pressured fish from snubbing their noses at your offerings.
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Title Annotation:10,000 ISLANDS; fishing in bights
Author:Merritt, Kevin
Publication:Florida Sportsman
Geographic Code:1U5FL
Date:Aug 1, 2013
Words:846
Previous Article:Snappers 24/7.
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