Finally, a dip in temperature bringing us January-type weather. After what felt likes weeks of 80-plus degree highs, a cool front blew through and put fish in more of a winter pattern - at least for a few days.
Early last week as inshore water temperatures were hovering in the low 70s, fishing was good for a variety of species. A mix of Spanish mackerel, bluefish, trout, pompano, ladyfish, jack crevalle and an occasional cobia were caught in open water areas of Charlotte Harbor and north Pine Island Sound. Most fish were hooked while drifting over depths averaging 5 to 8 feet with a grass/sand bottom while casting small spoons, Berkley Gulps, white shad tails and live shrimp under popping corks. After the cool front the action slowed in these areas, but after a stretch of sunny mild days, look for the action to resume.
Trout up to 20 inches were also reported from potholes in Burgess Bay near Bokeelia and between Pineland and Black Island. Shrimp under a popping cork and DOA shrimp were the best baits. A few flounder and pompano were caught from the holes.
Cobia are moving into the area as the water warms. Larry Widdifield visiting from Ontario, Canada caught this hard fighting cobia on a live sardine near Bokeelia last week. He was fishing with Capt. Bill Russell
Kayak anglers found redfish over the low tides in shallows south of Pineland and in Matlacha Pass northwest of the bridge. Fish up to 25 inches were taken on soft plastics in a new penny color rigged weedless and on hand-picked shrimp rigged weedless. A few snook were also caught and released.
Catch and release snook fishing was also reported near the mouth of the Caloosahatchee River where large fish were staging along the deeper shorelines. Large jack crevalle were also cruising the shorelines.
With the cooler weather the sheeps-head bite improved. Fish up to 6 pounds were reported from structure near the passes, including the old phosphate dock piling on the north side of Boca Grande, structure on the inside of Captiva Pass, and pilings around the Sanibel Causeway and Punta Rassa docks. Several pompano and a few redfish were also caught with fresh shrimp the best bait.
Sheepshead were also reported offshore from the Sanibel Causeway and Belton Johnson reefs. Snapper, Spanish mackerel, flounder and small grouper were also caught. Also offshore, before the weather change, king mackerel were reported in 40 to 50-foot depths south of Boca Grande. Fish ranging 15 to 30 pounds were caught over several days around birds, and the kings were often sighted sky rocketing from the water in good numbers.
Red tide or what appears as red tide was reported in areas of the sound south of Captiva Pass and also patchy areas several miles offshore. Florida Fish and Wildlife has the current status of red tide for our area available online at myfwc.com/research/events/status/statewide/. Reports are generally updated on Fridays and you can request to receive update emails. The areas I fished over the week, I have not noticed any indication of red tide, but others have, and FWC reports moderate levels in the area. Let's hope it's just in small areas and clears out quickly.
Have a safe week and good fishin'.