With another week of the "Dog Days" of summer in the books, anglers found redfish and grouper cooperative.
Inshore, redfish were a primary target for many anglers either choosing to fish them over the shallow grass flats on the morning in low water or taking advantage of the high mid-day tide and fishing under the bushes. The best baits for the morning lows were top water lures that imitated small mullet. The north end of Matlacha Pass on the inside of Smokehouse Bay and Buzzard Bay, and the southern portion of Pine Island Sound around Forty Acre Bay yielded reds from 19 to 25 inches. Several juvenile tarpon up to 10 pounds were also hooked.
On the high water some anglers found fish on just about every island point, while others struggled to find any. Baits varied and what worked for some, not so much for others. Pinfish and shrimp seemed to work the best, while live pinfish connected with reds for some anglers, others found a pinfish cut in half or with the tail cut off and fished on bottom was the ticket.
For his 12th birthday Nathan Decker of upper New York was treated to a fishing trip with his parents. He was all smiles after catching a variety of fish including this spanish mackerel while fishing around Charlotte Harbor with Capt. Bill Russell.
Some anglers found redfish only willing to eat shrimp and completely ignoring any baitfish, live or dead, when fished side by side with the shrimp.
Whatever the bait was, the key for most hook-ups was a bait presentation deep under the shade of the mangroves. Fish from 17 to 29 inches were caught in areas that included the inside bays around Two Pines on Charlotte Harbors eastern shore, the eastern shore of Matlacha Pass north of McCardle Island, Wulfert Keys in southern Pine Island Sound and various keys and islands near Pineland.
Spanish mackerel were caught throughout the area by boat and also from land from the Matlacha Bridge and the Sanibel Fishing Pier. Inshore, most were reported in water depths from 5 to 9 feet in areas that included the flats on either side of the Sanibel Causeway, east of Foster's Point, between Part and Useppa islands, and between Bokeelia and the northern tip of Patricio Island. Live pilchards, shrimp, small pinfish and small shiny lures were the best baits fished on the incoming tide. Trout, with a lot of them running small, bluefish, ladyfish, and jacks were also in the mix.
Offshore, Capt. Sean McQuade reports grouper in depths from 50 to 60 feet. Gags up to 25 inches were boated, plus large mangrove snapper and hogfish. Gag grouper up to 24 inches were also caught a short distance west of Redfish Pass over hard bottom in 30 to 35 feet of water, plus several nice mangrove snappers.
Our weather seems to be changing every day. For the inshore fishermen, these overcast days with a breeze can be a blessing. It can get hot as heck on a sunny calm day, but very enjoyable with a few clouds and a little wind. I really think the fish take notice, too; they always seem to bite better under these conditions.
If you don't like fishing this month because it's just too darn hot, the next time we have an overcast day, give it a try.
Have a safe week and good fishin'