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Fishing better than the weather

February 15, 2011
By Capt. BILL RUSSELL, On the Water
While the weather over the past week wasn’t completely miserable, it was by no means Chamber of Commerce quality conditions. However our fish did not seem to mind and reports were pretty good around the area.

Captain Gary Cark reports good rod bending action off the oyster bars adjacent to the Matlacha Pass channel north of the draw bridge. Ladyfish, trout and an occasional sheepshead were plentiful on most mornings over the last couple hours of the falling tide. All fish were caught while casting small white pompano jigs tipped with little pieces of shrimp with a slow jigging or bouncing retrieve. Captain Clark also reports sea trout and ladyfish in sand potholes near Chino Island in the southern end of the Sound and small redfish in creeks near the mouth of the Caloosahatchee River.

Captain Sean McQuade found redfish, sea trout and a few snook in the upper Sound near Pineland. Slowly poling his skiff while casting live shrimp to potholes along the mangrove shorelines his clients hooked redfish up to twenty-five inches, trout to twenty inches and were surprised with an occasional snook. He also reports a few flounder from the sand holes up to fourteen inches. The best bite was over the afternoon incoming tide.

From Saint James, Captain George Grosselfinger reports consistent back bay action while casting artificials. Fishing the west side of Pine Island over the week resulted in snook, redfish and trout action with snook to twenty-nine inches, redfish to thirty inches and plenty of trout with a few topping twenty inches.

At Select Bait in Matlacha, Ralph reports a steady week of reports from his customers. Keeper size sea trout were caught near Rocky Channel in Pine Island Sound and big sheepsheads were coming from the beaches and Gulf Passes. A few big sheepsheads were also caught from the bridges in Matlacha and Spanish mackerel were caught in north Matlacha Pass. Of course all fish were caught on shrimp from Select bait.

Sheepsheads and whiting were also reported from shore bound anglers at the Sanibel Pier and the rock jetties at Blind Pass.

On my boat, to my surprise the fishing was better than the weather. It wasn’t a terrible week as far as weather was concerned, but there was days with lots of fog, clouds, a little rain, a cold breeze and not much sunshine. Of course those were the days we were on the water, however decent fishing made up for the gloomy weather. We fished the northern end of Pine Island Sound and south of the bridge in Matlacha Pass and found a steady bite in both directions. We are still catching our larger trout in the Sound with a high ratio of keeper fish with the largest over twenty-one inches. Live shrimp under popping corks and for those that enjoy casting, a white buck tail jigs or soft shad tails was our money baits. The sheepsheads bite was also much better this week than the week prior, we found good concentrations of fish from one to four pounds near Cayo Costa State Park in the Sound and also around oyster bars in southern Matlacha Pass. We also found a few fat trout up to twenty inches in Matlacha Pass and small redfish, but in many of our spots the ladyfish took over and made it about impossible to catch anything else. Not a bad thing if you are looking for fast action. We are catching up to a half dozen flounder on each trip but most are running small, we had a couple over the twelve inch minimum and I expect we will see an increase in size as the water continues to warm. We caught small Spanish mackerel and bonnet head sharks up to four feet, both good indicators that spring is on the way.

We always try to fish the weather and tides to our advantage and I am a big advocate that the water should be moving, and the faster the better to sustain a good bite. Sheepsheads fishing falls firmly into this belief, up until this past Thursday our best sheepsheads bite always occurred with good moving water. We anchored up on one of my favorite sheepsheads holes in the Sound at the later stages of a strong incoming tide, the bite started off fairly slow. We caught fish but the average size was small with a few good fish here and there. As the tide slowed to a trickle and I was explaining to my clients that this should end the bite, all of a sudden the action picked up. As the current went completely slack the bite was on, we were getting triple hook-ups and all the fish were larger than earlier. This continued for about a half hour, we ran out of time, left the fish biting and headed to the dock, the tide was still at a standstill.

So, if there is one thing I continue to learn on the water, just when you think you have it all figured out, you are left scratching your head. When asked, when is the best time to go fishing, I believe the best philosophy is go fishing whenever you can, because you just never know.

If you have a fishing story or for charter information, please contact us at 239-283-7960 or: Have a safe week and good fishin’.


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