With the exception of passing showers and a few thunderstorms that accompanied a cold front that dropped through Sunday morning, our weather has remained warm and sunny. Although the weather forecasters mentioned the arriving front as a "cold front," but with barely a noticeable drop in temperature the fishing forecast continues to be good.
Inshore, water temperatures have risen to 70 degrees and higher over the past week; this has brought an abundance of bait fish both to the shallower flats and in deeper waters inshore. Large schools of Atlantic thread herring could be spotted all across the deep water areas and pilchards were easily chummed up on the grass flats.
Capt. Gary Clark found good action all week fishing 4 to 6-foot deep grass flats on both the gulf side of the Sanibel Causeway and the flats that run from Tarpon Bay north to the power lines. Live pilchards under a cork took constant action with trout, mackerel, bluefish, ladyfish and small sharks. For redfish and larger trout, the bite was best on the afternoon high tide around oyster bars and Island Points at the southern end of Matlacha Pass and around the mouth of the Caloosahatchee River. Pilchards and pinfish either free-lined or fished a couple feet under a cork were the baits of choice.
Ken Halvorson of Sanibel Island and daughter Katie Wyatt visiting from Prospect Heights, Ill., with a pair of redfish measuring 26 and 24 inches. They also caught trout and snook while fishing with Capt. Bill Russell in northern Matlacha Pass.
In Pine Island Sound and Matlacha Pass, Capt. Cliff Simer found fishing good at times and slow over other time periods throughout the day. With patience his customers were rewarded with snook, redfish and trout while fishing live pilchards in potholes and sand points along the mangrove shorelines in both the northern Sound and northern Matlacha Pass.
Shore-bound anglers fishing areas, including the Sanibel Pier, Blind Pass, and Bowman's Beach, caught a variety of species including sea trout, snook, flounder, pompano, sheepshead and whiting. For bait, either a white, shrimp tipped, nylon jig or live shrimp with a small split-shot sinker was a good choice. Wade fishing the north most shoreline of Bokeelia also yielded plenty of trout with a few big ones, plus flounder and small redfish.
Trout and redfish were also reported in south Matlacha Pass between the bridge and power lines on both the eastern and western walls. Trout up to 24 inches were taken around oyster bars on top water lures early and late in the day and redfish up to 26 inches were hooked under the mangroves on high tide.
On my boat, most days we had quality over quantity. Last week I mentioned the fast past action over open water for trout, mackerel, etc., well that kind of disappeared this week, not sure why, conditions were perfect. Anyway, we spent each day targeting larger trout, redfish and snook along Charlotte Harbor, north Matlacha Pass and Pine Island Sound. The bite was actually pretty good, snook have surely turned on the appetite for live shiners. We had decent action with snook just about everywhere we fished. Most days we caught trout, with a few over 24 inches, slot redfish, and the always fun snook from the same spot. At one time on Saturday, all three anglers hooked up at the same time and you guessed it, one was connected with a trout, one a snook and the other a redfish. Man, if that only happened more often life would be so much easier!
Our key to success was patience, locating an area that I was pretty sure should hold fish and patiently working it with confidence, especially on the weekend with boats running all over the place.
I often wonder when reading this column if anyone gets discouraged or wonders if the fishing reports are actually accurate. I often hear, "How come I always read all the great fishing reports but I catch nothing to speak of?"
Well, when someone gives a report, it's generally because they caught something worth reporting. People like to talk about their success, not failure, so we are only hearing from the fisherman that had a good day. Similar in my reports, you need to remember over a week's time my clients put in a lot of fishing time and we are not catching fish all the time, each day, every day. While what I want and strive for is a fish with every cast, I know it's unrealistic. Throughout a typical day there will be periods of good fishing and slow, but at day's end we hope the good outweighs the slow.
So, when you read this or any other fishing report, don't get discouraged, you are not the only one that didn't land a trophy fish today, I assure you. But when your day comes and the fishing gods smile on you, make sure you give us a report and share that great catch!
It's not too late! If you haven't already done so, mark your calendars for Saturday March 31. That's the date for the 14th annual Bobby Holloway Memorial Fishing Tournament. It's the longest running tournament on Pine Island and all proceeds go to a great cause - to benefit our children right here on Pine Island and surrounding communities. You can still sign up to fish the tournament and maybe win some cash or you can just come out for some good food, island atmosphere and take a chance at winning one of the great raffles and prizes.
You can find more information on the tournament at www.hollowaytourney.org. Registration forms are available at the website or for more Information call: Ernestine (239) 281-8225, Ralph (239) 283-2918 0r Chris (239) 344-6159.
The event is located at the end of Maria Drive west of Stringfellow Boulevard at the Lee County Fishermen's Co-op south of the center. I'll be there, will you!
Have a safe week and good fishin'.