July in the Sebastian area is a month of stable weather and predictable fishing. The light winds of summer allow small boat anglers to get out and fish the mouth of Sebastian Inlet and the near coastal Atlantic on a daily basis. Unfortunately, the schools of baitfish that are responsible for luring the kingfish, tarpon, cobia and bonito within range of small boat anglers, are a bit late showing this year, so maybe July will be the month. The “BIG” Sebastian Inlet redfish that I caught with consistency last June and July showed up very early this year, but hopefully they will stick around and keep my clients busy through the rest of the summer.
Sebastian River – The top of the list in the Sebastian River in July is tarpon. The larger juvenile tarpon (15-50lb) move over to the deeper canalized section of the north fork. As other migratory tarpon arrive in the Sebastian area, they also find their way into the north fork. Live mullet early and late in the day are the best bet, but jerkbaits, diving plugs, D.O.A. shrimp and flies can be successful when the fish turn on. Some big snook continue to reside in the Sebastian River throughout the summer. Fish docks and cover by day and lighted docks and oyster bars in the dark.
Indian River Lagoon –Snook are again center stage in Sebastian’s inshore fishing. This is partially due to the fact that the flats fishing for trout and reds is marginal at best due to a lack of grass beds, but also because so many big snook are hanging around docks and other shoreline structure. Twenty pound FINS BRAID tied to a D.O.A. shrimp or weed-less rigged C.A.L. shad will help you pull the linesiders out of the cover. Look for bull sharks and tarpon to congregate in the open basins of the lagoon. Try floating a live ladyfish on stout gear with wire leader for the bull sharks and fire Mirro-lures, flies, C.A.L. jerkbaits and live mullet at rolling tarpon.
Sebastian Inlet – This is the time to take advantage of the inlet. The tips of the jetties have always been the best spots this time of year, the north jetty on the outgoing tide, and the south on the incomer. Live bait is the only way to go during the day. Croakers, pigfish, and shrimp are your best choices. Shore bound anglers can also enjoy this great fishery, and possibly be at an advantage especially at night when live bait is optional and big bucktail jigs and diving plugs are commonly used. Permit and Bull redfish are also July visitors to Sebastian Inlet.
Near shore Atlantic –The summer time near shore fishery of the Sebastian area is our best chance of the year to catch fish weighing in the double and sometime triple digits. Large migrating tarpon, smoker kings, bonito, barracuda, cobia, dolphin, and even sailfish are possible within small boat range of the inlet. The tarpon are generally within a mile of the beach, they will generally hit a free-lined mullet or greenie tossed in front of them. Keep a light spinner or fly rod with you as well while you are searching for tarpon, so as to throw at schools of Spanish macks and little tunny busting bait. Slow trolling the near shore waters is easy and productive. I run two lines off my flats boat, a surface line and a downrigger. Stinger rigs made of #4 or #5 wire do fine. Baits from a 4-inch greenie to a 14-inch mullet are usable. Medium action conventional rods with TLD15’spooled with 15-20 pound mono or FINS BRAID are my preference for slow trolling.
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Capt. Gus Brugger