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Good tides bring great fishing opportunities

June 14, 2011
By Capt. BILL RUSSELL, On the Water
Anglers reported a pretty slow bite much of the week as summer inches closer. Slow moving tides will give way to strong full moon tides over the upcoming week that should give anglers plenty of great fishing opportunities.

Keeper-size trout with most averaging from 15 to 18 inches, plus a few larger, were caught over the edges around sand holes surrounded by turtle grass near the Gulf passes. With the slow tides much of the week the best bite close to the passes in depths averaging 4 to 7 feet. Water clarity was also important. Stay clear of the muddy water. Look for water where you can tell the difference between the sand and grass bottom. A good pair of polarized sunglasses is a must if you want to cut the glare and see what’s under the surface.

Spanish mackerel and bluefish were also in the same areas as trout. Mackerel fishing has been good in Charlotte Harbor. Surprisingly even on the days with hardly any tide movement, the macks were still busting up everything. The best bite was mid-morning till noon or so. Look for them cruising deeper grass bottom from 5- to 10-foot depths. Lots of little sharks from a 1 1/2 feet to 3 feet are with the macks. These little sharks are great for kids to catch, but remember, although small they still have razor sharp teeth.

Tarpon are scattered about Charlotte Harbor and Pine Island Sound in loose schools. It’s possible to sight them rolling and tail slapping if the water is fairly calm. The first couple hours of light in the morning are the best time. There are plenty of schools of large Atlantic thread herring around to either cast net or Sabiki for bait. The livelier they are the better. All our tarpon hooked over the week was on a live thread herring hooked through the nose on a 7/0 Owner circle hook with 80 pound fluorocarbon leader while allowing the bait to swim naturally behind the boat while drifting with the wind and/or tide. Don’t be afraid to stick the rod in the rod holder. A well set drag with a circle hook generally will hook a tarpon from the rod holder as good or better than handholding the rig.

Tarpon are also moving up and down the beach from Sanibel to Gasparilla Island. Small crabs under a float and live threadfins have worked best. The best method for beach fishing is to look for rolling fish and determine their swim pattern. School after school will follow the same path. Most anglers anchor up within casting distance of the travel path and present baits as the schools of fish pass by. Tarpon fishing is also in full swing in Boca Grande Pass. This week should bring great opportunities for jigging the holes in the Pass and pitching Pass crabs on the hill tides.

It’s important to use some common sense and be respectful when fishing for tarpon, or any type of fishing for that manner. If there are tarpon around chances are there will be several boats fishing. Keep a good distance away from other boats and don’t interfere with a boat or boats working a school of fish. Patience is the key to successful tarpon fishing — let the fish come to you. A little luck helps too. Of course, fishing in Boca Grande Pass is a whole other story.

Full moon is June 15th. There will be some high afternoon flood tides followed by late afternoon and evening falling tides. It should be a good week for fishing. Look for just about everything to feed over the incoming and tarpon action to pick up with the falling (hill) tides in the afternoon/evening. Get out there and catch a poon!

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

Article Photos

Photo contributed

Long-time Matlacha resident John Hobbs returned from northern Florida to get his boy on some tarpon action. Pictured is one of two tarpon caught in Charlotte Harbor by 16-year-old Hayden Hobbs with the assistance of his father, John and Capt. Bill Russell on Wednesday, June 8.



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