With the Easter holiday out of the way, many northern visitors have returned home leaving our waters less crowded. With the potential for great weather, fewer boats and lots of opportunities, anglers are enjoying possibly the best time of year to fish.
Much of the past week was too windy to get offshore, but on the calmer days there have been several reports of king mackerel from 10 to 30 pounds caught from Fort Myers Beach north to Captiva in 30 to 50-foot depths. Most fish were hooked while drifting live blue runners or trolling deep diving lures around bait pods or birds. A few large cobia were also sighted cruising just under the surface around the activity. Red grouper up to 12 pounds were found southwest of Sanibel over hard coral bottom in 60 to 80-foot depths. Live squirrel fish, grunts and pinfish were the baits of choice.
On days when the wind isn't blowing and the seas are relatively calm, a few anglers are hooking into early season tarpon off the beaches of Sanibel and Captiva. Most are running in small pods moving parallel to the beach in 18 to 25 foot depths. Look for larger schools to show up any day.
While visiting Captiva for spring break from Minnesota, 10-year-old Marco Lopesio caught his first redfish. Marco also boated a snook and trout near Buck Key to complete his inshore slam while fishing with Capt. Bill Russell.
Inshore fishing was pretty good when the water was moving. Some slow or non-existent morning tides often made catching a challenge, but once the afternoon incoming tide and sea breeze kicked in the bite was often good.
Capt. Gary Clark reports good action with Spanish mackerel, small sharks, bluefish and trout in Pine Island Sound. The bite was steady even on the mornings with poor tides while fishing just off the channel between Redfish and Captiva passes over mixed sand/grass bottom in 6 to 8-foot depths. One large spinner shark was also hooked on a live thread herring and busted loose after a couple violent leaps. Capt. Clark is also catching mackerel and trout on the gulf side of the Sanibel Causeway over the grass flats on the rising tide.
In Charlotte Harbor, Capt. Cliff Simer is finding Spanish mackerel north of Bokeelia over grass bottom in 6 to 10-foot depths. Free lining live shiners brought action from not only big mackerel, but also sharks, trout and bluefish. On the afternoon high tides, Capt. Simer reports snook, redfish and a few large trout up to 24 inches along the mangroves and Island points in north Matlacha Pass and Charlotte Harbors eastern shore.
On my boat, we fished over the week from mid-Pine Island Sound to Charlotte Harbor and north Matlacha Pass. Looking for some action with little guys on board, we kept busy with some really big Spanish mackerel and lots of small sharks (kid favorites) east of Captiva Pass. The bite was a little slow at first but once the tide began moving it really picked up. Also found trout averaging 16 to 18 inches in sand pot holes near Part Island at the tail end of the morning falling tides. For snook, redfish and larger trout, our best results came from the eastern side of Charlotte Harbor and Matlacha Pass on the higher tides. At times the bite was really slow, at times it was fair, and at times it was good.
As usual in April the waters around Pine Island, Charlotte Harbor and the beaches are often crystal clear. With larger fish including tarpon, sharks and cobia moving into our area, the clear water makes them easy to see. More tarpon are showing up each day, with a good pair of polarized sunglasses they are easily sighted over the light colored sand bottom along bar drop-offs. Keep the heavier tackle rigged and ready!
Have a safe week and good fishin'.