Following a couple back-to-back cold fronts that dropped our inshore water temperature nearly 20 degrees, sunny days returned and fishing was slowly getting back on track. A strong cold north wind kept anglers off the water much of the week and those brave souls that did wet a line found tough fishing conditions and a slow bite. As the weekend progressed temperatures were on the rise and so was the bite.
More and more large pre-spawn trout are showing up with good numbers reported between 18 and 21 inches. They were caught on live shrimp and a variety of artificial lures along the bars outside Bull and Turtle Bays across Charlotte Harbor, in mid-Pine Island Sound and west of Galt Island. Most reported weren't schooled in any numbers - catch a couple from a spot make a move and repeat. Look for the trout bite to really heat up over the next couple weeks.
Anglers are also catching flounder while targeting trout, averaging one to four a trip up to 16 inches.
The Michigan crew of Jim Salisbury Sr., Jim Salisbury Jr., Aaron Maslowski and Bill Myron hold 8 of their 16-trout limit with the largest measuring 21 inches. They were fishing Pine Island Sound last Friday with Capt. Bill Russell
By mid-week Spanish mackerel should return in big numbers. We continued to catch a few over the cold days, generally in areas where you wouldn't expect them. Target deeper inshore areas with a sand/grass bottom mix; watch for birds and dolphins.
A few redfish were caught over sandy bottom along shorelines in Matlacha Pass south of the bridge and also along the north Captiva shoreline. Live or dead shrimp fished on bottom was the best bet.
The best sheepshead fishing came from structure near the passes including the old phosphate dock pilings on the north side of Boca Grande Pass and the seawall on the south side of Redfish Pass, as well as the docks on the north side. Live shrimp and fiddler crabs fished on bottom took sheepshead up to six pounds. Several flounder and pompano were also reported from these areas. The potential for a good sheepshead bite on the near shore reefs is still there if the weather is permitting.
We are heading into the last week of winter and hopefully leaving the cold behind us. I know we got it good compared to the cold up north, I get reminded all the time, but if we could string together a couple warm weeks without interruption it could possibly be some of the best fishing of the year.
Have a safe week and good fishin'.