Despite a full moon, wind, some rain, and even reports of red tide all working against anglers, those that put in the time still managed some respectable catches.
Windy days and high seas have made it tough going offshore, yet there are still reports of good catches. Grouper, both red and gag were taken in fifty to seventy feet of water either trolling deep diving lure or bottom dropping over structure. Gags are the usual catch trolling diving lures, but anglers that were able to get the big lures down deep and actually bounce them of bottom boated a number of red grouper to twenty-five inches. A few king mackerel to ten pounds were also taken while trolling.
With the traditional method of grouper digging, live pinfish was a hard bait to beat when dropped to bottom either anchored or drifting. Red and gags to twenty-eight inches were caught on pinfish and on large jigs & squid combos. Mangrove snapper, triggerfish and large porgies were also caught over the same bottom as the grouper on lighter tackle. Many boats running offshore noted good amounts of dead fish floating (presumably from red tide) from just of the beaches out to fifteen miles.
Doug Roberts from Gulf Harbor in Fort Myers scored with a beautiful twenty-six inch redfish that sported eighteen black spots. He was caught on the low falling tide along with snook and trout while fishing with Captain Bill Russell in Charlotte Harbor.
Inshore, the month of October continues its reputation as a great month for redfish. The full moon slowed the day bite down somewhat but plenty of redfish were still caught. Schools of fish were reported around the perimeter of Charlotte Harbor cruising along sand bars and also around the Gulf Passes on the falling tide. These fish are running twenty-six to thirty inches on average and the schools vary from several dozen to several hundred. Keep an eye out for a big push of water moving down the edge of a bar, when you see it quietly get in position for a long cast ahead of the school. About any live or cut bait well immediately get inhaled when the lead fish reaches it and most artificials also get whacked. Large oversize redfish were also caught and released from the Sanibel Pier and down the beach near the light house by beach anglers.
Redfish smaller on average, about eighteen to twenty-two inches, was caught in good numbers from south Matlacha Pass to the mouth of the Caloosahatchee River and in lower Pine Island Sound. Live shrimp and pilchards fished around oyster bars on the high tides and shrimp, pilchards, pinfish and Berkeley Gulp shrimp fished in sand holes and troths was the best way to score with the reds on the lower water.
Trout fishing was productive around Charlotte Harbor in drop-offs near sand bars on the falling tides. Nothing huge, but a good showing of fish averaging fifteen to eighteen inches. Live pilchards were the top bait, with pinfish and shrimp coming in a close second. Paddle tail jerk baits also worked if you could fish an area without too much floating grass, a difficult task with the wind. Fishing shrimp for bait also worked to put some large tasty pompano in the cooler. Spanish mackerel were also caught throughout the Harbor and near the Sanibel Causeway. Speaking of the causeway, more than one large gag grouper was boated from dropping baits around bridge pilings this week and also if fishing around the bridges keep an eye out for a curious cobia cruising just under the surface. Keep a rod rigged and ready just in case the opportunity arises.
Anglers had a lot working against them this past week and still caught some fish. That's October for you, a month that's just hard to beat when it comes to fishing. Now, let's just hope that nasty red tide doesn't hang around and we can finish off the month on a good note.
Don't forget this Sunday, October 23rd. that's the date for the Pine Island Elementary 13th annual Fishing Derby & Tournament. It's a great event presented by the "Matlacha Hookers", women's service organization. All proceeds benefit the kids at our elementary school on Pine Island. As usual it's held at the Olde Fish House Marina in Matlacha with a Kids Derby from the docks and the weigh-in for the Fishing Tournament at 3:00 PM. Registered children are invited to participate in games, face-painting, T-shirt-painting, the fishing derby in three age divisions, lunch, and a trophy award ceremony. Tournament registration fee for adult anglers is $50, which includes a free T-shirt and a meal ticket to the fish fry; this is a very affordable tournament. Get a chance stop by and support our Island school children by attending this event, you will be glad you did. For further information visit www.matlachahookers.org