Inshore fishing heats up along with the summer weather and when conditions are right, snook, trout, and flounder can be caught one after another until your arms get tired! Mangrove shorelines and sandy “potholes” scattered throughout the seagrass flats in less than 5 feet of water are good places to start. If things get too hot in the backwater, you can also find snook on the beaches this time of year. Look for them in very shallow water just a few feet off of the shoreline. Stay low and sight cast whiting, mojarra, or whitebaits to them during a strong tide.
Tarpon can be found in huge numbers in June and the run is in full swing. You can find large pods of schooling tarpon running the beaches and passes near Egmont Key, New Pass, Longboat Key, Bean Point, and the Skyway bridge. Live pass crabs and threadfin herring are the best baits for tarpon. Big sharks are always following the tarpon and can usually be caught this time of year one after another if you’re up to it. Nearshore reefs and wrecks usually hold permit in June and a small crab drifted over structure will often result in a strike. Anchoring and chumming can bring in other species like Spanish mackerel, bonito, and even an occasional curious cobia. Gag and red grouper, mangrove snapper, and big flounder can also be caught on the bottom with live pinfish and whitebaits.
Fishing offshore structure in June usually results in the normal cast of characters – mangrove and red snapper, amberjack, barracuda, and both red and gag grouper. However, the number of cobia in the area increases this time of year and there is a very good chance of finding them on offshore structure. Hang a chum bag to get scent in the water and also chum heavily with live bait to bring them in. Another trick is to leave the engine running in neutral after anchoring – they are a very curious species and will often come to investigate the sound of a running engine. Cobia eat absolutely anything and artificial lures, whitebait, pinfish, crabs, squid, and blue runners are all on the menu.