What a beautiful week! Weather over the past week was just about perfect for boating - mild, sunny and warm. Even if slow moving tides at times made for subpar fishing, no one could argue it was a great week on the water.
Trout numbers increased over the week, with good action reported pretty much all the way around Pine Island. Many of the fish are running undersize, but with some effort, fish up to 20 inches were invited home for dinner.
In Matlacha Pass fish were caught around oyster bars south of the power lines and north of the bridge over grass flats west of marker #68. In Pine Island Sound trout were reported in potholes 4 to 6-foot deep off the west side of Cabbage Key, over grass bottom and sand holes near Buck Key and Galt Island. Grass flats from 3 to 6 feet north of Tarpon Bay on Sanibel also yielded sea trout with a couple over 20 inches reported. Live shrimp and Berkley Gulp shrimp suspended under rattling corks, DOA shrimp, white or chartreuse jerk baits and small suspended lures all worked to put fish in the boat.
Blanche McWilliams with one of many nice trout caught on a beautiful day in Pine Island Sound. Blanche and her husband Barton, visiting from Kansas City, spent a day fishing with Capt. Bill Russell while they vacationed in Bokeelia.
For those taking advantage of the low early morning tides and getting back into the really skinny water were rewarded with good red fishing opportunities. Pine Island Sound's east side from Pineland all the way south to the power lines are holding redfish, often in small schools. Look for the reds in the sand holes on the low water then moving up onto the shallow turtle grass as the tide begins to flood in. Capt. Shawn McQuade reports excellent fishing in the sound with reds up to 30 inches plus a few bonus gator trout including one monster measuring near 27 inches. Live shrimp rigged under a custom-made rattling cork and suspended just over the grass tips was a killer rig for the reds and trout. Other anglers also found redfish averaging 21 to 23 inches in the sound and lots of undersize "rat" reds in creeks at Ding Darling and Matlacha Pass.
Sheepshead this month are a good bet, with fish reported from the usual places. The bite was slow on the off days that tide movement was poor, but when the water was flowing fish up to four pounds were caught around the Gulf Passes and off the beaches near submerged trees and rocks.
After a warm week, Spanish mackerel have moved back into Charlotte Harbor, schooling fish up to 22 inches were caught north off the piers at Bokeelia. Bluefish and a ton of big ladyfish were also mixed with the mackerel. Live shrimp under popping corks and Clark silver spoons was the best choice for the macks.
Over the past several weeks, flounder hook-ups were a pleasant surprise for anglers, some report double digit catches in a day. The best areas included north Pine Island Sound, Matlacha Pass and the eastern side of Charlotte Harbor. No one really targets flounder, all were caught on rigs intended for trout, redfish, sheeps-head, etc., many are running on the small side, but some slabs up to 23 inches were reported.
Offshore, sheepshead were caught over nearshore structure out to 30 feet west of Captiva on live shrimp and fiddler crabs. Farther out, southwest of Sanibel in 60 to 80-foot depths red grouper were caught over hard bottom. Many are undersize with a few large fish up to ten pounds boated.
Grunts and porgies were also caught from the same bottom on live shrimp; live pinfish was the bait of choice on the grouper.
Don't know how long this beautiful weather will last, it might even be over by the time this hits your driveway. If not, take advantage of it and get on the water, even if the fish aren't biting, it's just too darn beautiful to be stuck inside and off the water.
Have a great week and good fishin'.