For inshore anglers the hunt was primarily for redfish, while many found success, there were also plenty of fishermen who struck out. Successful anglers included kayakers, waders, and of course fishing flats and islands form boat. Tailing reds were found in the Indian Fields area in Matlacha Pass over the lowest stages of the tide where stalking on foot or kayak gave the best chance of hooking up in the ultra-shallow water. Small top water plugs, gold weed less spoons, and fresh cut bait connected with reds up to 25 inches, plus a few trout exceeding the 20 inch mark. Similar type fishing was reported in the extreme shallows in Pine Island Sound around Orange Pass.
By boat, anglers found reds feeding in schools along sand bars over the perimeter of Charlotte Harbor and also in the northern Sound from Captiva Pass north. The best bet was any bait that would make a long cast at the moving fish, including heavier top water lures, gold weed less spoons, and fresh cut bait, including ladyfish steaks and pinfish. These reds are averaging 27 to 30 inches; the best time to sight the schools was on the end of the falling tide and beginning of the incoming. On the higher water the traditional method of fishing under the shade of the mangroves worked for fish from 18 to 26 inches. In the Sound most of the Keys and Islands that dot the eastern side are each holding at least a few fish, the inside bays and Islands around Two-Pines also yielded reds. Live or cut pinfish, plus Berkley Gulp Shad were the favored baits.
A lot of the inshore water around the Islands is still dirty or murky going back to when Isaac passed by. For the best chance at trout and Spanish mackerel, locating the clearest water is paramount. Some of the best areas included Charlotte Harbor around Pelican Bay, off Bokeelia, and across to the north around Bull Bay. West of the fish shacks in the Sound also proved productive. Most of the trout are running an inch or so under size with larger fish mixed in and the mackerel are averaging 16 to 20 inches.
Offshore, a mix of gag and red grouper, plus mangrove snapper was boated in depths from 60 to 80 feet. Live pinfish, frozen sardines and thread herring, plus squid in a large jig head were top baits. Closer to shore over the reefs made from the old Sanibel Causeway between Ft Myers Beach and Sanibel, anglers found good action with mangrove snapper, Spanish mackerel, small sharks, a few nice trout and small grouper. Shrimp, pilchards, pinfish, and shrimp tipped buck tail jigs were favored baits. The preferred method was to locate the highest relief on a depth sounder, anchor up current and deploy a chum bag to the bottom and slowly raise it every few minutes. On a day with light winds this is a good way for anglers with smaller boats to get on some good action and still be relatively close to land.
Have a safe week and good fishin'.