As we celebrate Thanksgiving with friends and family, there should be some good fishing opportunities over the holiday week. Red tide reported last week appears to have subsided as most reports over the week were of catching fish, not sighting dead fish.
Offshore, anglers are catching grouper, snapper, grunts, mackerel and a good number of tripletail. Red grouper up to 28 inches were caught west of Boca Grande and Redfish Passes in depths from 50 to 75 feet. Large Hogy lures, live pinfish or squirrelfish took the biggest grouper. Lane snapper and big grunts were also caught with lighter tackle over the same bottom. Sharks from 5 to 6 feet were also hooked.
Tripletails up to 10 pounds were found sunning under crab trap buoys, with the best area in 30-plus feet of water. A stealthy approach with a live shrimp or Berkley Gulp Shrimp were the best bets to hook into one of the best eating fish in our waters.
Look for inshore sheepshead fishing to pick up heading into the holidays. Pictured is Matlacha resident Jack Orzalli with a nice fish caught on a cold day in Matlacha Pass while fishing with Capt. Bill Russell
Large schools of Spanish mackerel were reported less than a mile outside Boca Grande, Captiva and Redfish passes. Casting spoons, jigs or trolling silver spoons worked for good action on fish up to 25 inches. Blacktip and spinner sharks were also sighted around the macks.
Inshore, Capt. Gary Clark reported several days of great redfishing east of St. James. Fishing island points and oyster bars over the incoming produced double hook-ups on reds up to 26 inches. Bait of choice was a live shrimp on a circle hook suspended under a popping cork.
Capt. Cliff Simer reports a mix of trout, sheepshead and redfish in Matlacha Pass. Most were caught south of the bridge near the power lines while working oyster bars with live shrimp. A few of the sheepshead were 4 pounds or better so the bigger fish are moving in.
Anglers also sight-fished reds on the morning low tides in the Smokehouse Bay area of Matlacha Pass and in the eastern sound north of Demere Key. Fish were running between 20 to a few pigs pushing 30 inches and either natural or artificial baits worked well.
In the same areas trout averaging 13 to 16 inches were caught in sand holes and off sand bars, most were caught in 4 to 6 foot depths. Berkley Gulp Shrimp or Shad, either slow bounced over bottom or fished under a rattling cork worked great to entice the trout.
I wish everyone a happy and safe Thanksgiving and hope everyone can spend some time on the water with family or friends.
Have a safe week and great fishin'