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Tarpon fishing season is in full swing

May 23, 2012
By Capt. BILL RUSSELL - On the Water , Pine Island Eagle

With tarpon season in full swing, some anglers are finding success while others are finding it difficult getting them to eat. With the focus on tarpon, it's also a great time to go after other fish without the usual fishing pressure.

Good numbers of tarpon were found off the beaches in areas including Knapp's Point of Sanibel, north of Blind Pass off Captiva and west Cayo Costa. The first few hours after sunrise found the fish most active with live thread herring and cut bait working best off Sanibel and live herring, crabs and flies getting hook-ups further north to Cayo Costa. Large numbers of tarpon were found in Boca Grande Pass, live herrings and crabs produced early in the morning while crabs, squirrel fish and herring fished near bottom in the deeper holes worked best during mid day. On the morning incoming tides pods of fish were also coming into the harbor from the pass with hook-ups reported on crabs and herrings either free lined or fished several feet under a float.

In Charlotte Harbor there was real good action on the incoming tide over deeper grass bottom in areas with good water. Lots of Spanish mackerel, plus trout, bluefish, jacks, large ladyfish and sharks could be caught from the same area. Live shiners or herring worked best but live shrimp and small silver spoons were also a good option. The trout averaged 14 to 18 inches and the mackerel up to 2 feet. Trout and Spanish mackerel were also caught inside Redfish Pass west of the channel in 5 to 8-foot depths on the incoming tide.

Article Photos

Photo provided

Looking for redfish around an oyster bar near Blind Pass, Larry Miller was surprised when this 38-inch snook blasted a live shiner. The big girl was removed from the water quickly for a couple pictures then safely released. Larry, from Atlanta, was attending a convention at South Seas Resort on Captiva and took in a day of fishing with Capt. Bill Russell.

Redfish catches were reported in south Matlacha Pass and across Charlotte Harbor along the outside shorelines of Bull and Turtle Bays. Fish from 17 to 30 inches were caught off oyster bars and shoreline points with live pinfish or shrimp the best baits. A few mangrove snapper up to 13 inches were also caught, plus loads of catfish.

As summer draws near snook continue to move closer to the beaches, Gulf Passes and surrounding areas. Anglers working shorelines from Blind Pass north to Cabbage Key caught and released snook on both live bait and early in the morning on top water lures. Walking the beach, fly fishermen connected with fish on white Clouser minnow and deceiver flies on Sanibel and north Captiva early in the mornings. Trout up to 20 inches were also hooked I the surf just a few feet off the beach.

While many anglers are consumed with tarpon fever, others found it's a good time to target different inshore species without much competition. Recent winds and rains have really stirred up the inshore waters often making it difficult to find fishable areas. Many areas were just plain muddy looking and once the tide starting falling out floating grass often made it impossible to keep a clean line or bait. Pine Island Sound was really bad with floating turtle grass, Charlotte Harbor wasn't as bad and Matlacha Pass actually was the cleanest. With some strong new moon tides and a consistent weather pattern the waters should clean up this week.

If you have a fishing report of for charter information, please contact us at: Phone: 239-283-7960; Web-site:; Email:

Have a safe week and good fishin'.



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