Sea trout continued as the main attraction for many anglers as the bite has become noticeably more aggressive with the warming water. Captain Gary Clark with Ultimate Charters is catching fish in good numbers in southern Pine Island Sound near Galt Island. Fish up to eighteen inches were found in fairly large schools in the house size potholes four to six feet in depth. The best baits were live shrimp under popping corks and white Redfish Magic soft plastics on a quarter ounce jig head.
Captain Dick May with Easy Rider Charters found good trout action in the northern Sound near Pineland. Over grass flats in three to five foot depths. For bait both live shrimp under bobbers and Zoom twitch baits, white in color did the trick. Captain May also reports good action on undersize redfish near Cayo Costa State Park along with several nice flounder.
In southern Matlacha Pass, Captain Cliff Simer found trout up to twenty inches around oyster bars on the incoming water. The best bite was after the noon hour, live free lined shrimp was the bait of choice.
On my boat we found good consistent trout action near Bokeelia in the northern Sound. A surprisingly high percentage of our fish were of “keeper “size (over fifteen inches) with more than a few approaching twenty inches. Each day the bite would start a little slow, but consistent, and get better as the sun reached higher in the sky. For bait we used three techniques and all worked equally well, the easiest and very productive was a simple live shrimp under a popping cork. This is for those anglers that want to catch fish and not spend a lot of time casting, a great choice with three or more anglers on the boat. Second, a live shrimp fished with a very small split-shot weight with a slow retrieve across the bottom connected with plenty of fish. And last, a white soft plastic shad tail on a red quarter-ounce jig head, I honestly don’t think the brand of the artificial manners too much, in fact I am not sure what brand I pull out of the bag half the time. The important thing is technique and confidence in the bait. If you haven’t already noticed, most of the Captains mentioned catching trout on artificial, all the same color, WHITE. Don’t ask me why, but trout find this color irresistible, it’s my along with many other Captains go to color when casting for trout. Go grab a couple bags of different brands and give them a try, you will be glad you did.
Sheepsheads were reported for shore bound anglers from the Sanibel pier, the rock jetties at Blind Pass and the Bokeelia Pier. They were also reported under docks around Useppa Island, Roosevelt channel at Captiva and the seawall at South Seas Plantation. For rigging a small sharp hook, I use a number one, not a 1/0 but smaller, just enough weight to get it to the bottom, a couple feet of twenty to thirty pound fluorocarbon leader and a small live shrimp threaded tail first up the hook shaft is a good sheepsheads rig.
Anglers are beginning to report larger redfish, but most are finding them difficult to catch. Small pods of fish up to thirty inches were sighted in Pine Island Sound between Demere Key and Pineland Marina. These fish were dropping into the deeper sand holes on the morning low tides then pushing onto the turtle grass flats with the rising water. The best fishing came on the days with a southerly breeze, where a live shrimp worked through the potholes fooled redfish up to twenty-five inches, plus a few big trout and several flounder.
We caught several Spanish mackerel over the past week, normally not a big deal, but to me it is. It’s a great indication that the water has warmed considerably and fish are on the move. When you start catching mackerel on the inshore flats after a long bout with cold weather it could be sign of good things to come. Could we be over the hump and progress to early spring fishing? Time will tale, but there are certainly some positive signs.
If you have a fishing story or for charter information, please contact us at 239-283-7960 or: www.fishpineisland.com. Have a safe week and good fishin’.
Glen “Hildy” Hildebrand along with three of his buddies caught their limit of trout including this fat 20-inch fish. They were fishing near Bokeelia in Pine Sound with Capt. Bill Russell.