So far, November has remained a month with mild weather, a few slight cool fronts but nothing more. With no reason for bait fish and migratory predators to move south for warmer water, a variety of good fishing continues around Southwest Florida.
The short two-month gag grouper season came to a close on Nov. 16 and a few days with calm seas at season's end gave some impressive catches. Capt. Shawn McQuade needed only a few hours for his party to limit out on gags on the last day of season.
Fishing not too far from shore in depths to 50 feet, they boated gags up to 35 inches. Once limited on grouper they lightened up the tackle and put some nice mangrove snapper and grunts in the box from the same areas.
John Koslosky came to Pine Island to take advantage of the beautiful weather this past week. John caught this 25-inch redfish plus snook and trout while fishing Charlotte Harbor with Capt. Bill Russell.
Other captains report good catches of gags from as deep as 120 feet, way offshore, to shallower water in the 30-foot range, a short distance off the beaches. Grouper up to 28 inches were also reported from Boca Grande and Captiva passes and around the pilings of the C-span of the Sanibel Causeway.
Inshore, anglers are reporting big trout with many closing in on the 24-inch mark. Of course, trout are catch-and-release only as season is closed through December. The good news, if you haven't heard, when it reopens on January 1, it will remain open all year in our area with no closed season.
Scattered redfish were reported throughout the Sound and Matlacha Pass with size variations from 16 inches to 30 or better. Matlacha Capt. Joe Harley reports sight-fishing reds for his clients in south Matlacha Pass during the calm early morning hours, where they hooked into big fish pushing 30 inches on fly.
Capt. Gary Clark reports working the edges of oyster bars near St. James City for redfish up to 21 inches. The incoming tide and live shrimp under popping corks gave the best action. Trout and flounder were also caught around the bars.
Redfish were also taken from sand potholes on the eastern side of Pine Island Sound from Demere Key north to Big Jim Creek. Cut ladyfish, shrimp tipped jigs and Gulp shad tails took redfish from 17 to 28 inches during the lowest stages of the tide. Trout, ladyfish and several flounder up to 20 inches were also caught from the sand holes.
From shore, pompano, sheepshead, redfish and flounder were taken from the Bokeelia Fishing Pier, the Sanibel Pier and off the rocks at Blinds Pass on Captiva.
On my boat we had fun with catch-and-release snook on several days, plus big trout and plenty of Spanish mackerel. Early in the week it was tough to find a hungry redfish but as the week progressed we found a few nice fish each day ranging from 22 to 25 inches on Charlotte Harbors eastern shore. Our redfish were mixed with snook and trout, feeding in sand holes on the rising tide.
If you have a fishing report or for charter information, please contact Capt. Bill Russell at 239-283-7960 or visit the Web at www.fishpineisland.com