What a difference a week makes! Following day after day of strong winds, our weather settled down by the weekend with absolutely gorgeous days, not to mention cooler, with much less humidity. It took several days for the waters to calm and fishing to eventually get back on track, plus with the cooler temperature many fish are on the move.
Offshore, with gag grouper season closed anglers looked to red grouper to fill the cooler. Reds up to 12 pounds were caught in 60 to 75-foot depths west of Captiva and Sanibel. The largest fish were hooked on heavy white or yellow jigs tipped with strips of fresh cut bait. Grunts, porgies, and triggerfish were caught over the same bottom with similar rigs in a smaller size.
Spanish mackerel from 2 to 5 pounds and a few king mackerel to 10 pounds were reported 6 to 12 miles west of Boca Grande Pass. Trolling spoons or free lining live pilchards around feeding birds was the key to success. A few decent size tripletail were caught nosing around stone crab trap buoys, plus a good number of undersized fish were sighted. A live handpicked shrimp cast up current and allowed to drift/swim back naturally with the current toward the fish was the best method for a hook-up.
Snook are on the move. Pictured is Joe Axelrod of Chicago with a 34-inch snook that blasted a live pinfish. The big fish was carefully released back to Matlacha Pass after this quick photo. Joe and his father were fishing with Capt. Bill Russell.
Inshore, with the cooling water anglers are beginning to catch some decent size sheepshead. Shore-bound anglers using small live shrimp caught sheepshead up to 4 pounds from the Sanibel Pier and along the beach near the rocks at Redfish Pass. From boats, a few respectable fish were taken around the old phosphate dock at Boca Grande and in deeper creeks around "Ding" Darling Wildlife Refuge. Pompano numbers also appear on the rise as fish were either caught or reported skipping across the water throughout Pine Island Sound and Charlotte Harbor off of bar edges in 3 to 5-foot depths. A few were also caught from the Sanibel Pier and along the big sand bar on the gulf side on the Sanibel Causeway A span.
With no more November closure, anglers are targeting trout with mixed results. Each day after the strong winds the fishing improved. Several large fish, with one pushing 25 inches, were reported blasting top water lures over 2 to 4-foot deep grass flats north of Demere Key in the Sound. A mix of small to keeper fish was caught around Red Light Shoals in the southern Sound and also around Useppa Island to the north. Mackerel, jacks, and lots of ladyfish were also in the mix.
Scattered redfish were caught off island points around Buck Key in the sound, the northern end of Buzzard Bay, and near Masters Landing in Matlacha Pass. Fish averaged 19 to 26 inches and were caught on a variety of baits including shrimp, pinfish, top water lures, spoons, and scented jerk baits.
With cooler days and the water temperature dropping, fishing can be good at any time of day. Unlike the heat of summer where the cooler mornings and evenings give anglers the best shot, this month the best time to go fishing is whenever you can. Of course if you can coordinate your fishing trip with the best tides, that's even better, but with the weather recently there isn't a bad time to be on the water, even if the fish aren't biting.
Have a safe week and good fishin'.