With summer heating up, fishing both inshore and offshore continues to move along with reports of good fish and action.
Limits of gag grouper were reported as close as three miles off the beaches, out to 120 feet, and many areas in between. Trolling deep diving lures or dropping hand-sized pinfish over limestone ledges took gags to 25 inches a short distance off beaches and well in sight of the Captiva Islands. Limits of gags up to 28 inches were caught in 70 to 80-foot depths west of Sanibel with large pinfish, sand perch and small blue runners the top baits.
Several nice red grouper up to 24 inches were also taken with the gags. Farther west in depths from 100 to 120 feet, gags up to 31 inches were boated plus big red grouper and mangrove snapper with a few over 20 inches. Live baits including pinfish, large thread herring, Spanish mackerel and grunts did most of the damage with large jig/squid combo's also taking some fish.
Eleven-year-old Trevor Henry of Cape Coral with a 26-inch 'Gator' trout caught from Charlotte Harbor near Bokeelia on a fishing charter last week with Capt. Bill Russell.
With the extension of American red snapper season, anglers did the best from 120 to 150-foot depths. Snapper up to 18 pounds were caught on both live and cut bait along with some large gag grouper.
The well-marked, near shore man-made reefs are giving up good action for smaller boats that want to stay closer to land. A little bit of everything including pompano, redfish, mackerel, sharks, ladyfish, grouper, trout, snapper and jacks were biting on a variety of baits that included shrimp tipped jigs, pilchards and small pinfish dropped to the bottom with a small weight and cut bait including pinfish, mullet and thread herrings. The best bet was to anchor up current of the structure and let your baits drop back with the tide. To get the action going quicker a block of frozen chum hung over the side in a chum bag was a good idea.
Inshore the big surprise was the size of some of the summer trout caught over the week. Many fish were reported over 20 inches in areas from the shallow grass flats to deeper grass bottom areas and near the gulf passes. Fishing near Bokeelia and north Matlacha Pass, we caught several that measured 22 inches and one that measured an honest 26 inches. Large trout are common during the spring but not so much in the heat of summer. A few big trout to 24 inches were also taken by kayak anglers working mullet imitating top water lures at first light in Indian Fields in north Matlacha Pass and near Big Jim Creek north of Pineland.
Also over the deeper grass mixed bottom, we caught the larger trout there was a good number of Spanish mackerel and bluefish. Some of the mackerel are running good size, were a blast for the kids on board, and also very good eating fresh. The best bite was over the late morning, early afternoon falling tide. Look for the cleanest or clearest water possible, wear Polaroid glasses and locate water that you can distinguish the sandy areas from grass in five to eight foot depths.
Capt. Gary Clark reports some days are better than others but shark fishing was consistent in mid-Pine Island Sound. Lemons up to 7 feet were caught south of the fish shacks in 6-foot depths along with several large stingrays. Anchoring up on the falling tide and fishing dead mullet or ladyfish on bottom gave the best results.
On the mid-morning high water, redfish were reported under the shade of the mangroves around Cabbage Key and Islands to the north in the Sound and north of the power lines in the western side of Matlacha Pass. The reds are measuring anywhere from 17 to 30 inches and the best baits included dead shrimp, cut pinfish, ladyfish and mullet. Make sure to get the bait as far under the mangroves as possible and let it soak on bottom. The better bite was the last hour of the incoming and first of the falling.
Have a safe week and good fishin'.