Sooner or later we knew the weather had to change, it was just too nice for too long, it was inevitable. After another week of mild days, a cold front came through just in time for the weekend. With a severe drop in temperatures and small craft advisories on the bay the weather squashed most fishing plans for the weekend. Ahead of the change fishing reports were decent with action on snook, reds, trout and mackerel inshore, plus good fishing a few miles offshore on shallow water reefs.
The report from trout anglers was more and larger fish with the warming water. In fact there were several reports of larger gator trout showing up on the flats, fish that generally don't start to appear in numbers until next month. A few areas where larger trout twenty-two inches and above were caught included the shallow flats and potholes between Burgess Bay and Pineland, inside Pelican Bay on the eastern side of Cayo Costa State Park and potholes near the McKeever Keys in the southern Sound. Average size trout from thirteen to eighteen were also caught from the same areas with good action also coming from north Matlacha Pass near marker 72, grass flats off Bokeelia, and just outside Tarpon Bay on Sanibel. Spanish mackerel with a few three pounds or better and several bluefish were also mixed with the trout over the flats off Bokeelia and Tarpon Bay in four to seven foot depths.
Shallow minded anglers enjoyed another week of skinny water red fishing in Pine Island Sound. Tailing and waking fish were sighted on the Sounds eastern side north of Demere Key and on the shallow grass south of Cabbage Key. With much of the week holding a good deal of wind making sight fishing difficult it was often necessary to blind cast into sand potholes and depressions for the best chance of connecting with a red. Fish on average from eighteen to twenty-three inches with a few upper and over slot fish reported.
Steve Ballou of Cape Coral with a 37-inch snook that was caught and released while fishing with Capt. Bill Russell in Charlotte Harbor.
Before the weekend catch and release action on snook was really increasing, the warmer water had them out and about feeding, they were almost in their spring time mode. No doubt with the water temperature falling the snook bite will be off for a few days but should recover fairly quick. Remember, snook season is closed catch and release only, and handle them with as much care as possible.
Good action with a mixed bag was the news for nearshore reefs and structure just a few miles off the beaches. Sheepsheads, snapper, mackerel, flounder, grunts, and out of season grouper were caught while anchoring near the structure up current and deploying a chum bag to get the action going. Shrimp, either live or fished in small pieces on a with nylon jig took the majority of the fish. Most of the grouper were under size, but a few gags that would have been legal size had the season been open were also released.
Now that the cold front passed through and is now gone we can return to more warm weather and good fishing. We really have been spoiled this winter with great weather, let's not stop it now!
Have a safe week and good fishin'.