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August 2003
Gulf Saltwater Flats

Gulf Flats Report - by Chris Sapp

August is here and it is hot.  Heavy rains in June and early July kept the water pretty murky from the Aucilla River to Mexico Beach.  Clear water will definitely improve the fishing. This is the time of year to fish early in the morning or late in the afternoon.  The middle of the day is reserved for napping, swimming, or scalloping – something in the shade or water, but definitely out of the hot midday sun.  The trout can be caught on the flats and around the bars early in the day but generally move into a little deeper or into the grass as the sun rises higher in the sky.  Pinfish, catfish and sharks will be numerous and many anglers move away from fishing live shrimp on the flats, opting for live pinfish or strictly artificial lures. This is also the time of the year when I like to hit the flats at night and throw a topwater plug – usually a TopDog or prop Mirro-Lure.  Cobia are still cruising the flats and markers so keep a rod ready.  Scallop season will be in full swing. A nice way to spend the day on the flats is to put the boat in at sunrise and head out to find some trout or reds.  As the sun and the temperature rises, start searching the bottom for those sweet little shellfish lying on the bottom or in the grass.  When you see those little blue eyes shining in the sunlight, put the rods down and put the anchor out and dive flag up. Don the mask and fins. It’s time to get wet and get those scallops. After you collect your limit of scallops, go back to fishing. Many days we finish up our limit of trout on topwater at sunset.  It makes for a long, fun day on the flats.  Please check the latest FWCC regulations for updates on scalloping and fishing laws as some changed on July 1st.

Thunderstorms have been pretty intense this year. We have also had some fronts that really churned up the Gulf and bays creating very rough seas and rip currents. Please take sea and current conditions into account before you head out fishing, scalloping or diving. Also, remember to keep an eye on the horizon for that nasty summer thunderstorm, and take evasive action at the first sign of a storm. The storms become more frequent and intense.  It’s best to head for the hills long before the lightning gets close.  It’s just not worth flirting with those thunderstorms.  As the summer progresses, the number of people and boats on the water increases dramatically.  You have divers and scallopers in the water all over the flats and Gulf.  Look for those dive flags!! Please be observant and especially careful in areas with people in the water.  Stay safe, and keep only what you can use.

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