Finally, after a long hot summer southwest Florida was greeted with cooler temperatures and much lower humidity this past weekend. A stiff northerly breeze made fishing a challenge for a few days, but overall it was a productive week.
Inshore, redfish were reported in both Pine Island Sound and Matlacha Pass. The southern end of the Sound near Wulfert Keys on the western side and Regla Island to the east yielded reds up to 31 inches. On high water fish were hooked under the mangroves and oyster bars, and for the lower stages fish were feeding along troths along the sandbars. Also in the Sound mid to upper slot reds were reported around Islands near Cabbage Key.
In Matlacha Pass anglers found success on reds south of the bridge near the power lines on both sides of the Pass. Fish from 16 to 28 inches were caught at creek mouths and mangrove points over the higher tides. Large jack crevalles, some pushing well in excess of 10 pounds were also hooked in the Pass as schools were sighted roaming the shorelines and busting bait on the surface.
Karen Moran of Matlacha was all smiles and sore muscles after landing her first grouper, and a big one at that! She was fishing 20 miles west of Boca Grande Pass. Great job Karen!
The better trout fishing came from Pine Island Sound near the Gulf in areas with clean or clear water. Notable areas included grass flats northwest of Mondongo Island, west of the fish shacks, and between Redfish Pass and Roosevelt Channel. A mix of undersize to upper slot fish were found over grass flats averaging 4 to 7 feet in depth.
The same areas mentioned above for trout were also a good bet to give up a few Spanish mackerel. With the cooler weather to our north the annual fall migration of fish heading south is in motion. Every day we can expect an increase in mackerel numbers. Schooling mackerel, often resulting in fast action, were reported at the Sanibel Causeway on either sides of the span, up and down the beaches, in the Sound, and north of Bokeelia. Casting or trolling silver spoons is a great way to target the macks; some areas are also holding large schools of ladyfish and a few bluefish.
Pompano catches are also on the rise, fish to 2 pounds were caught in the surf on Captiva Beach, from the Sanibel Fishing Pier, and the Burnt Store Bar on Charlotte Harbors eastern shore. Live shrimp under a popping cork and small white or pink pompano jigs tipped with shrimp were the best methods for bringing home a few of these tasty fish for dinner.
Offshore, we mentioned red tide last week, some anglers are reporting evidence of fish kills several miles out and others have noted nothing out of the ordinary. Red grouper were reported from 25 to 30 miles southwest of Sanibel and west of Boca Grande Pass. Gag grouper were caught in depths from 30 to 60 feet either by dropping live bait or trolling diving lures. For live bait a hand size pinfish was hard to beat, for trolling the key was to cover as much ground as possible concentrating on ledges. Lures included X-rap 30's, Stretch 30's, and Bombers, preferred colors included red/white, blue mackerel, and dolphin color. At least on big cobia was reported that went for a grouper bait over the week.
Cooler days and migrating fish moving through our waters, what a great time to fish. Take advantage of it, get out there and let us know what you catch!
Have a safe week and good fishin'.