The summer started with some serious rainfall in early June causing lots of freshwater runoff in the river. Luckily, lake Okeechobee was very low after a super-dry spring season, so they haven’t been draining the lake, which we all know is never good. However, the fresh water in the river has kept the pilchard baits and glass minnows from coming inside the inlet, so they are mostly schooled up along the beaches and inlet. The snook, tarpon, and redfish have been feasting on them early morning and around sunset. When fishing the rock piles at the inlet, simply pitch baits and lures from the up-current side and work all different depths. Live chumming with glass minnows can turn on the big female snook and get them feeding.
As this low salinity, dark-colored water cycles out with the tides, we should see the tarpon move further back in the St. Lucie River where they can be found rolling at sunrise back near the Roosevelt Bridge, North Fork, and South Fork. My favorite lures for these tarpon, are DOA Terror Eyz, Hogy Shad Tails, and Rapala X-Raps. During July, there can be crabs 2-4 inches wide drifting out with the tide. This can turn the tarpon on big time as they sip the crabs off the surface.
We should start seeing more mullet in the river as well. The 6-10 inch silver mullet are the best baits for the big tarpon at the inlet and crossroads. The can be cast-netted on the shallow flats surrounding the islands before sunrise. Typically we see lots of these 6-10 inch mullet before the finger mullet run starts in August or September. So make sure you have a good cast net ready!
July is a great month to walk the beach with a spin rod or fly rod looking for the bait schools pushed in by snook, tarpon, jacks, and more. The walk from Bathtub Beach south to the Inlet at sunrise is always a great option. Some other good beaches are Bob Graham Beach and Hobe Sound National Wildlife Refuge Beach. Always be on the lookout for diving birds while walking the beach. Some good flies to use are Deceivers, Clousers, and Puglisi Ghost Minnows. -Capt. Giles