With a week of mild temperatures the water has warmed and fish are on the move. Some days have led to good catches, and a slow bite was reported on others.
Sheepshead were reported in south Matlacha Pass around deep oyster bars, under docks in St. James City, Tarpon Bay and Roosevelt Channel, and then on the slower tide days, better action was found over structure near Redfish, Captiva and Boca Grande passes. Fresh shrimp cut in half and threaded on a small sharp j-hook or circle hook with a small sliding egg sinker and a couple feet of 20 to 30-pound fluorocarbon leader is one of the most popular sheepshead rigs. Unlike most of our fish, the colder it gets the better the sheepshead like it; often they feed best on the coldest, nastiest days.
Anglers are reporting scattered redfish caught in both Matlacha Pass and Pine Island Sound. Many of the fish are on the small side known as "rat reds" averaging from 14 to 17 inches. While these juvenile fish are undersized to invite home for dinner, they still put on a great fight for their size. In Matlacha Pass the fish were caught under the mangroves in the washouts of some of the deeper creeks and around the perimeter of oyster bars. In the sound, potholes, deep mangrove shorelines and creek mouths from Blind Pass down to Tarpon Bay on Sanibel held good numbers. For baits, a live shrimp fished under a popping cork or on bottom with a small split-shot sinker was hard to beat. Shrimp tipped quarter ounce jigs and Gulp shrimp also got their attention.
Jesse Parmentier of New York City caught her first 23-inch redfish in Pine Island Sound while visiting parents Jim and Shirl Parmentier of St. James City. The red went for a piece of shrimp on a light jig while fishing near the mangroves.
For larger redfish, those measuring from 20 to 26 inches, the best reports came from anglers fishing the shallower flats in north Matlacha Pass, between Pineland and Panther Key in the upper sound and near Buck Key behind Captiva. Gold weedless spoons, handpicked shrimp, Gulp Shrimp and cut ladyfish produced bites on both tailing and waking reds.
Trout are moving with the water temperature, as it warms between fronts they are moving back onto the flats. Fish up to 18 inches were caught on DOA shrimp in a natural color with a rattle in 3 to 5feet of water in north Matlacha Pass, the best bite was during mid-day.
In Pine Island Sound, trout were taken in potholes averaging about 5 feet in depth from the power lines to Galt Island on the eastern side and near Foster's Point of Captiva. On the lower tides anglers found the best action while casting live shrimp suspended under a popping cork, DOA CAL jigs in a shiner pattern and shrimp on a jig head. Several flounder and a few pompano were also caught from the potholes. Pompano were also reported around Redfish and Captiva Passes in 6 to 12-foot depths over and bottom.
Offshore, red grouper to 25 inches were reported in 65 to 80-foot depths. Baits included live pinfish, grunts, and frozen Spanish sardines or squid fished on a jig head. Porgies and grunts were also caught from the same depths on lighter tackle with live shrimp or cut sardines.
It doesn't take long for inshore waters to raise or drop 8 to 10 degrees in temperature from one cold front to the next. Fish are constantly moving and adapting to the change. Where you caught them a few days ago, if the temperature has changed, chances are they have moved. This is especially true with trout, snook, and redfish. So, keep an eye on the water temperature and it will improve your catch.
Have a safe week and good fishin'.