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Area experiences mackerel invasion

February 27, 2013
By Capt. BILL RUSSELL - On the Water , Pine Island Eagle

Give us a week of warm Chamber of Commerce type weather and look out, here come the mackerel. As water temperature approached the seventy degree mark Spanish mackerel invaded our waters, giving anglers plenty of reel screaming action and fish dinners.

Spanish mackerel were reported throughout Pine Island Sound, in Matlacha Pass, Charlotte Harbor, and over near shore reefs. Captain Gary Clark found a mix of mackerel, bluefish, and trout over grass bottom in four to six foot depths between Picnic Island and the B span of the Sanibel Causeway. Most fish were caught on live shrimp both free lined and under bobbers.

In Charlotte Harbor and the north end of Pine Island Sound, Captain Cliff Simer found red hot mackerel action. Fish running from fourteen to twenty-four inches were schooled up and fighting over free lined live shiners. A few bluefish, trout, and ladyfish were mixed with the mackerel over deep grassy areas in six to eight feet of water; the best bite was over the incoming tide.

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On her first Florida fishing trip Elizabeth Sheeren (13) visiting from Grosse Pointe Michigan scored with non-stop action on Spanish mackerel. She was fishing in Charlotte Harbor near Bokeelia with Captain Bill Russell.

In Matlacha Pass mackerel were caught near marker 76 and also on the south side of the draw bridge. In Charlotte Harbor mackerel were taken from the Bokeelia Pier and over grass/sand bottom north of the pier near the channel.

In Pine Island Sound look for mackerel action east of Useppa Island in four to seven foot depths and also the same depths west of the fish shacks. Good action was also reported around Hells Half Acre just inside Captiva Pass and east of Fosters Point between Captiva and Redfish Passes. Pompano were also caught on shrimp tipped jigs in the same areas near the Passes.

Farther south mackerel were caught while trolling silver spoons adjacent to the C-span of the Sanibel Causeway and also from the Sanibel Pier. Sheepsheads and pompano were also reported from the pier.

Offshore, angler's bottom fishing for sheepsheads and snapper often found Spanish mackerel a nuisance as they commonly took the baits before they made it to bottom. Along with mackerel, good size sheepsheads, a few snapper, grunts and lots of small grouper were boated over both man-made reefs and hard natural bottom in twenty to forty foot depths.

Again this week I continued to hear reports of red tide, most coming from areas near the barrier Islands. I fished pretty much all the way around Pine Island, including the Sound, Harbor, and near the Passes. We could feel it in our throats and developed a slight cough while fishing the Sound near Punta Blanca Island, but we did not see any dead fish. Trout were still biting from the area and as soon as we picked up and moved the itchy throat and cough immediately disappeared. It appears to be isolated; if you have noticed any fish kills or evidence of red tide please let me know, so we can pass it along.

If you have a fishing report or for charter information, please contact us at 239-283-7960; or

Have a safe week and good fishin'.



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