Hello again anglers. It’s been a while since the last blog. The weather has been crazy hot and the fishing has slowed a little. We experience these dog days every year at this time and there are a few things that will help you still keep a tight line through late July and early August.
One of the main reasons the fishing slows down inside the river at this time of year is obviously water temperature. With the general warming of the water, coupled with the above average temps we're experiencing, fish become increasingly lethargic and feed more infrequently. The large schools of various bait fish we see in the spring have cleared out and selective feeding for all species is the norm. There are a few things that we can do to be more productive during the “Dog Days of Summer”.
So far this blog has concentrated on Bass, but during this time of year, expanding our species list will give us more opportunity to be successful. Blues start to move in large schools off shore during July and August and they will make their way into the river feeding on schools of sand eel and pogies. Blues in the river are more common than most think and can provide hours of action if you hit it right.
The majority of blue fishing should be done from Damon’s point to the mouth. The first key is to locate the fish. This should be done from 2 hours before high tide till 2 hours after. I like to troll that stretch with large (8”) plus mid-running Rapalas. Color is important to blues, and it is based more on reaction then matching what they are eating. My go to colors are silver, fluorescent orange, and red/white. If you hook up you’ve found them. You can keep trolling the spot, or start drifting and casting. Scaling down your gear and throwing smaller Rapalas or various silver spoons. I really like Kastmaster silver and blue spoons.Silver.......just like our tequila...
The second way to locate blues is by eye. Feeding blues will cause a commotion on the surface and that will attract birds. Watching for bait slicks is also a sure fire way to find the schools. Bait slicks are the aftermath of the blues feeding frenzy. Pieces of half eaten sand eel, and pogies will float right by your boat, keep your eyes open. This goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway. Watch your fingers people. Needle nose pliers are mandatory. Blues have sharp teeth, strong jaws and they like fingers. Don’t lose a digit.
Another species that is always around and is perfect for cigar and beer fishing is your Summer flounder. They are easily caught and great to eat. Flounder rigs are fairly standard and Belsan’s can hook you up in a jiffy. Triangle weights, a spreader rig and flounder hooks baited with sea worms is all you need. One side note regarding the triangle weights. The spots I like (which I’ll give you in a minute) have lots current, so heavier is better, 1 oz and up. Tide is also important. Same as with the blues, 2 hours prior to high tide and 2 hours after. Remember this is when bait is washing either into or out of the river and flounder will peak at these tides. My favorite area inside the river for flounder is directly across from the spit, running all the way to the mouth. There are several holes along that stretch hugging the south riverside shore line that hold lots of fish. Set a good anchor over the holes and employ this trick (provided by my good friend Paul Carroll). You’ll need a mesh gear bag, a couple large rocks and a frozen mackerel. Put the mack and the rocks in the bag and lower it to the bottom. Flounder will instinctively be attracted to the bait source and move closer to the boat, that’s important because success often means being right on top of the flounder. With that in mind be prepared to move frequently from hole to hole until you hook up. Another added bonus with the mess gear bag set-up, if you’re lucky, is that it’s frequently covered with Jonah crab (I’ll leave checking regulations to you). Last time I tried this, the result was baked flounder with Jonah crab stuffing.
Now quickly back to the bass during these “Dog Days”. The trick is to be at your spot during the reduced feeding pattern the fish are in. For me this means 1 hour after the high tide till 4 hours after high. It also means hitting those tides either early morning or from dusk on. The window during those times will be small, maybe as short as ½ hour, so be patient. Stay in a small area and fish it thoroughly staying confident that tide and time of day will produce results. The bottom line is that these fish are still feeding everyday, you just need to be there when they do. Good luck…stay cool.
Fish Guy, Spit Guy