Fishing with Matt Badolato Central Florida

What’s going on my fellow Guru gurus?

     Hope ya’ll have been fishing and surfing and not staying inside watching the Casey Anthony trial. They don’t even mention the fishing rod she had in the car with her! What’s up with that? I know it’s a sensitive subject, but they could have at least told us what color jerk shads she was using to catch the Central Florida bass we all know she’s guilty of targeting…

     Anyhow, June is here and it’s getting hot. So hot, in fact, that I swear I saw two trees fighting over a dog the other day. It’s hotter than two goats in a pepper patch..yup.

     So what to do when it’s sticky, steamy, Florida fungus weather? Go fish! But you’ve gotta think like a fish.

     If you fish inshore—in the lagoon, river, whatever you want to call it—you’ll want to try and find some cool water. Fish are cold-blooded, which scientifically suggests that they prefer to dine on Klondike Bars and Italian Ice. But we regular folk reckon it means that they gravitate toward water temperatures which coincide with their preferred body temperatures. Would you jump in a hot tub after a long day of yard work? Of course not! So in the summer, try to find that cooler water where the fish will be chillin’ out.

     Snook are a classic example of a fish that’s picky about his water temperature. In the early mornings when the water is relatively cool after the long night of no blazing sun, snookums (how cute, I know) will be out on the flats, chasing down pinfish and schools of mullet. If you’re out on the water before 7:30 A.M., you’ll see snook out in the open and you can catch ‘em on live baits or big topwater plugs. But after that magic early hour, you can bet they’ll be hunkered down in the shade, slurpin’ up shrimp cocktails and mullet mojitos as the little critters come swimmin’ by their shady spot.

     Cool water ambush spots that snook like to hang around are docks, mangroves, deep water holes, culvert and drainage pipes and moored boats. All these things offer shade, which cools the water beneath them. The snook also love to hang in the dark-colored water where they’re less visible to their unsuspecting prey.

     Whether you’re wading or fishing from a boat, approach these snook-spots slowly and quietly. Pitch your bait right up in there, making it look like it just stumbled into the snook’s lair. If there’s a snook under there, he’ll pounce right on it like a cat on catnip. My favorite baits for this scenario are the DOA Shrimp in gold flake, holographic silver or anything that you think looks like a shrimp. Weedless jerkbaits work well also, and are great for skipping way up under docks or mangroves without worrying about getting snagged on the structure.

     As far as tackle goes for this early-summer snookin’ extravaganza, I like a 6 to 7-foot rod and a reel loaded with either 10 or 15-pound Power Pro braided line. You’ve got to have braided line. Don’t make me tell you again. You’ve also gotta have a mono leader at the end of your braid—about two feet should do it. I use the Uni-Uni knot to tie my leader to the mainline, a line-to-line knot which eliminates the need for a swivel and offers some shock absorption and some stealth, which the solid-colored Power Pro doesn’t.

     Offshore, the dolphin fishing should get better. I say “get better” because it hasn’t been incredibly spectacular this year so far. We’ve had some pretty gnarly winds lately and the economy is also keeping people off the water, so maybe we just haven’t heard of too many being caught. But they’re definitely out there if you’re willing to give it a shot. The water is crazy warm this year—already in the eighties. This is bad because, like I said before, fish are cold-blooded. Mahi, wahoo and tuna don’t like to be TOO hot, even though they are tropical fish. So once that water gets above 80, you can bet they’ll be headed north and east in search of cooler water. Sometimes they will stay on the western side of the Gulf Stream, which is awesome for us small boat anglers. We’ll only have to run out to 80-90 feet off Sebastian, Fort Pierce and Canaveral to find some ‘phins.

     Well, stay tuned for more summer time fishing. Check back next month and we’ll have more to report on East Central fishin’, divin’ and just plain messin’ around. And make sure you lather up and cover up your skin, because the sun is bright and it’s hotter than a four-balled alley cat.

    Till next tide—live slow, surf fast, dive deep, spear clean and fish every bait like it’s your last,

Matt Badolato
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