Captain Joel’s Fishin’ Holes

Published on: June 13, 2018

Warm-water fishing


This time of year the bay and gulf waters heat up — and so can the fishing. During the heat of summer focus on shady spots inshore and deep holes offshore. 

Fish tend to group in cool water spots. For example, snook and redfish are hanging out under residential docks, mangrove canopies, ledges and boats in marinas. Mangrove snapper, shark, grouper, cobia, Spanish mackerel, sea bass, sheepshead, tripletail and other fish in the bay can be found in deep holes, under towers, buoys, shipping channel buoys, ship docks, reef ledges and weed lines. 

It’s also a great time of the year to night fish targeting gamefish under dock lights and also find gamefish over lights. When I mentioned over lights, I’m talking about the underwater green lights that sit on the bottom and shine up toward the surface. 

Gamefish get a little lethargic and lazy when the water temperature heats up. They find places to ambush bait using less activity to attack. Dock lights and underwater lights bring in baitfish, shrimp and crabs that show up to feed on minnows, brine and microscopic organisms. Gamefish stalk their prey in the shadows around the light’s glow, which makes for an easy kill. Think like a lethagic gamefish when picking your summer fishing haunts. Think of places where bait is plentiful, and drop your line in those spots.

Tips on catching lazy fish in warm water:

• Chum a lot and make the gamefish hungry and active — I like to call it forcing the frenzy.

• Use scissors to cut the tails off your bait to slow them down. Make it easier for the lethargic gamefish to stalk and kill your hooked bait.

• Slow your retrieval down. Give the lazy gamefish a chance to catch up to your bait. Sometimes it will watch it for a while before it decides to exert the energy to run it down and eat it.

• Use lighter leader, smaller hooks, lighter weights/split shots and smaller bobbers/corks. Try to eliminate anything that may turn a gamefish off. They tend to give up easier in warmer water — and they are easily spooked in warmer water.

• Keep noise down. Use your trolling engine or pole into your spots. Refrain from slamming boat hatches and cooler lids. You can talk as loud as you’d like and even play music. (Fish don’t like rap music; I’m guessing it’s the boom of the base, however, they seem to love Lynyrd Skynyrd.)

I hope these warm water tips will help you have a successful fishing experience. Safe boating and watch out for lightning this time of year. See ya’ll in the lineup.  

For a charter with Captain Joel of Ana Banana Fishing Company, call 813-267-4401, or visit, or find him at Village Marina at Little Harbor in Ruskin under the big yellow Ana Banana sign.

For information on Ana Banana Kids Fishing Camp, visit