Fishing mirrored the weather much of the week, hot and cold. As normal for January in Southwest Florida the week was split, half the days were beautiful light wind days with the afternoon highs near the eighty degree mark followed with cooler days with overcast skies and a brisk north breeze. The waters were fairly busy with eager anglers on the Chamber of Commerce days, but not so much on the gloomy ones.
With trout in season they are the primary target for the majority of inshore fishermen. In Matlacha Pass trout ranging in size from 13 to 19 inches were caught near the power lines in south Matlacha Pass and in Buzzard Bay and the flats near marker 72 north of the bridge. Seems about any bait that mimics a shrimp is getting their attention. Top choices were DOA shrimp and Berkley Gulp shrimp with New Penny, a hot color. Yellow or white quarter ounce bucktails tipped with shrimp was another good choice. Of course live shrimp was also a top bait, either rigged two or three feet under a popping or rattling bobber or rigged tail first on a jig head and worked in the same manner as the artificials. On the warmer days the larger trout were feeding in three to four-foot depths and on the cooler weather they dropped to depths five feet or over.
Basically the same bait variations also put some good trout in the boat in Pine Island Sound and near the mouth of the Caloosahatchee River. Near the river trout up to 21 inches were reported by Capt. Gary Clark in depths from three to six feet. On the calm mornings the largest fish were chasing top water skitterwalks over the shallow flats with white Redfish Magic and shrimp under corks also working well as the day progressed.
While visiting their Grandma, BJ Bowers of Captains Cove, Peyton (pictured) and his father, Jeff from Indianapolis were treated to a day of fishing. The pair in return treated Grandma to a fresh fish dinner with trout and sheepsheads that were caught in northern Pine Island Sound while fishing with Capt. Bill Russell.
In the Sound trout reports came from three to five-foot depths on the west side of the long bar that runs from Demere Key south to Regla Island, the flats off the east side of Buck Key and the grass flats between the fish shacks and Rocky Channel.
Capt. Sean McQuade reports a good sheepshead bite across the western side of the Sound near the Passes. Fish up to five pounds were taken on fresh shrimp around structure; the best bite was over the days with the strongest incoming tide. A few black drum and redfish were also mixed with the sheepsheads. Captain McQuade also reports successful day's sight fishing redfish on the eastern side of the Sound. Fish averaging 21 to 25 inches were caught on top water and shrimp imitations on the lower stages of the incoming tides.
In St. James, Capt. George Grosselfinger reports snook up to 29, trout to 24 and redfish to 23 inches. All fish were taken on artificials near St. James.
Redfish were also found on the flats in Matlacha Pass south of the bridge and on the eastern shore of Charlotte Harbor near Two-pines. Most of the fish were located with schooling mullet in two foot or less of water, the best bite was the beginning hour or two of the incoming tide.
This time of year all our inshore fish are feeding primarily on shrimp and crustaceans. For the best shot at a successful day think shrimp for bait, whether it's the real deal or look alike imitations. Vary your retrieve speed and try different depths (depending on the weather) and odds are good you will have a successful day.
Have a safe week and good fishin'