Good fishing without much competition was what most anglers that hit the water found over the past week.
Inshore, snapper, redfish and trout were the main targets. Mangrove snapper fishing has improved with many anglers reporting filling the cooler with limits of tasty mangs up to 15 inches. Any type of structure, including docks, oyster bars, mangrove shorelines and artificial reefs in 6 to 15 feet of water held good numbers of fish. Look for these type areas with a good tide flow.
Small pinfish, pilchards and herrings about 2 inches in length and live shrimp make great baits. The preferred rigging included small circle hooks and 20-pound fluorocarbon leader, with the baits either free-lined or just enough weight to get it to bottom.
South Matlacha Pass, areas around the mouth of the Caloosahatchee River, Inside Redfish and Captiva Passes, and Charlotte Harbor were proven areas for snapper over the week.
There weren't a lot of redfish reports, but the few I did receive were good. Cut bait, including pinfish and ladyfish, appears to consistently out-fish both live bait and artificial. In mid-Pine Island Sound, reds up to 25 inches were taken from sand potholes in the northern Sound. The best time was early to mid-morning while working 3 to 5-foot potholes a short distance off the mangroves. A live pinfish cut in half and fished on bottom worked best for the reds and also took a few flounder and trout.
From mid-morning through the afternoon the best red fishing came from cut baits fished as far under the shade of the mangroves as possible. Reds up to 29 inches were reported under the bushes in Smokehouse Bay in northern Matlacha Pass, near Masters Landing at the south end, the Two Pines area of Charlotte Harbor and along the keys in the northeastern Sound. Mangrove snapper and a few snook were also caught from these areas.
A few anglers found good action with a mix of fish. including trout, mackerel, bluefish, sharks, jacks and ladyfish. A good bite was found in the sound over the deeper grass flats off the east side of the intracoastal from Red Light Shoals north to the fish shacks, and the same type of bottom north of Bokeelia in the Harbor. Fish were caught on live baits, including shrimp, pinfish, and pilchards, Gulp shad tails under a rattling cork and also fresh ladyfish strips under a rattling cork.
A few of the trout measured up to 22 inches and many of the sharks were hard fighting blacktips averaging about 3 feet.
Offshore, mangrove snapper up to 17 inches were caught over nearshore reefs in 20 to 40 feet of water, plus undersize grouper and a few sharks. Farther west, gag grouper up to 30 inches, plus a few red grouper to 25 inches were boated in 70 to 90-foot depths. Live pinfish and jig/Spanish sardine combos were the top baits.
Although it's only the middle of August, you can feel the days getting shorter. It won't be long before our waters will begin to slowly cool down. By the end of the month we should begin to notice large redfish schooling up on the inshore flats. These schools can easily surpass several hundred. Keeps your eyes peeled for the push of water this many upper to over-slot reds can make in the shallows. If you find them and they are hungry, which they usually are, hang on and have fun.
Have a safe week and good fishin'.