Our weather fluctuated a lot over the past week from warm to cold and right back warm again. Despite the constant changes the fishing wasn't too bad.
Captain Gary Clark of Ultimate Charters reports a mixed bag including redfish, trout, mackerel, flounder, and bonnet head sharks. Redfish from seventeen to twenty-three inches and several trout over twenty inches were caught on Skitterwalk top water lures in a mullet color on the shallow flats around the Islands inside the A-span of the Sanibel Causeway. Most of the fish were caught while working the lures around schooling mullet. Spanish mackerel, a ton of big ladyfish, bonnet head sharks and a few flounder were caught in four to six foot depths between Picnic Island and the Causeway. White redfish magic soft plastics and shrimp tipped jigs were the best baits.
In lower Pine Island Sound Captain Shawn McQuade found redfish, flounder, plus catch and release trout. Live pinfish, cut pinfish, and shad tail jerk baits fished in sand potholes with schooling mullet worked for redfish up to twenty-five inches, a few big flounder and lots of action on trout. The best action was over the early stages of the incoming tide.
Fishing on a cold morning last week Chris Terrasi of Matlacha landed this big sheepshead. He was fishing Matlacha Pass with captain Bill Russell
On my boat we fished with live shiners on the warm days then when the cold front dropped down at mid week we switched to shrimp. Good numbers of Spanish mackerel are in Charlotte Harbor near Bokeelia the only problem is getting past all the big ladyfish to catch them. We had to average probably a dozen ladyfish hook-ups to every mackerel. The macks are there the ladyfish are just very aggressive and in huge numbers. Trout from fourteen to sixteen inches were also with the macks and ladies over the deeper grass bottom.
Big sheepsheads have finally moved inshore as we caught good numbers of two to three pound fish and one that went five pounds. Look for them around dock, pier and bridge pilings, in the deeper creeks with oyster bottom (like those in Ding Darling), on the beaches and around oyster bars. Anglers also reported above average size sheepsheads caught from the Sanibel Pier, inside Redfish Pass along the seawall and around pilings in northern Pine Island Sound. Most were caught on shrimp, generally a half or piece of shrimp fished on a small (1/0 or smaller hook) with enough weight to keep it on bottom.
Spanish mackerel and ladyfish schools were found crashing bait schools off the beaches south of Redfish Pass and a few big tripletails were caught south of Knapp's Point on Sanibel under floating debris. There appears to be a good number of quality size flounder around as many anglers are reporting above average fish from the beaches and inshore around structure and in potholes on the flats.
One day it's hot, the next its cold, then hot again. One day your fishing in shorts, then the next bundled up like an Eskimo, that's southwest Florida fishing in December. Whether it's hot or cold, windy or calm, I will take a day of fishing in any of those conditions over a day fighting the Christmas shopping crowds and traffic anytime.
Holiday Gift Certificates Available. Have a safe week and good fishin'.
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