Good weather creates opportunity for a wide variety of angling choices. Anglers took advantage of a beautiful week and found plenty of cooperative fish.
Tarpon season is now in full swing, a week of favorable weather gave anglers great opportunities to hook into a silver king both inshore and off the beaches. Captain Joe Harley reports good sight fishing opportunities around Charlotte Harbor and the northern end of Pine Island Sound. Light wind and clear water in the morning hours made it possible to make great fly and artificial presentations to schooling fish in 4 to 8 foot depths. Captain Harley also sighted several cobia cruising the same areas. Captain Mark Westra found tarpon schools off the Sanibel Beaches and near the Sanibel Causeway, where large live atlantic thread herring was the bait of choice. Watch for rolling or free-jumping fish, position your boat up wind or up tide, shut down the motor, and make a quite drift through the area with free lined baits for the best chance of hooking up. Captain Gary Clark also reports tarpon pods off the beaches from Ft Myers to Blind Pass, with the best bite coming very early in the morning, then again at late morning. Tarpon were also hooked while fishing cut bait on bottom south of Captiva Rocks in the Sound and west of Galt Island near the power lines. Sharks, including blacktip, spinners, sand, and lemons were a common nuisance for tarpon anglers.
If you want action and lots of it, fishing was great on the inshore open water grass flats. Each cast often resulted in a different fish including trout, mackerel, bluefish, jacks, and ladyfish. May of the trout was good size running 16 to 19 inches. Cobia, sharks, and a couple surprise tarpon were also hooked. Look for this type fishing in 6 to 10 foot depths with a grass and sand bottom. Most areas the water visibility is really good, with polarized sunglasses it's easy to look for the dark (grass), light (sand) mixed bottom. Some prefer to anchor while other anglers opt to drift; I favor anchoring up tide of the area and chumming the fish in. Captain Cliff Simer found good, if not great fishing in the northern Sound and southern end of Charlotte Harbor. Similar type action was reported in north Matlacha Pass, in Charlotte Harbor off Bokeelia, and outside Bull Bay, throughout Pine Island Sound near the channel, and outside the Sanibel Causeway.
For his birthday 9-year-old Jack Messier of North Naples wanted a fishing trip instead of a traditional present. His father treated him to a day of fishing in Pine Island Sound with Capt. Bill Russell where Jack caught a variety of fish including mackerel, bluefish, trout, flounder, snook, shark, and redfish.
Low morning tides and afternoon highs held good opportunities for redfish, sight fishing on the lows, and fishing under the bushes on the highs. Captain Anthony Pierce located redfish around Turtle Bay on the early stages of the incoming tide and in the southern Sound near Ding Darling on the afternoon highs. Redfish were also reported around Indian Fields in Matlacha Pass, the eastern shore of the Harbor, and the western side of the Sound from Cayo Costa south to Fosters Point on Captiva. Captain Pierce also reports catch and release snook fishing in the mid Sound and along the beaches.
Offshore, Spanish mackerel schools were found anywhere from about a mile off the beach out to 20 miles. Watch for birds and fish rocketing form the water. Mackerel to 5 pounds were caught on live bait and spoons, either trolling or making long cast. Further out in depths from 60 to 90 feet red grouper up to 12 pounds were caught over reefs and coral bottom, along with catch and release gag grouper. Mangrove and lane snapper, plus grunts and porgies were also mixed over the same bottom. Almost forgot to mention, there is a really good showing of nice mangrove snapper inshore, earlier than usual, so it may turn out to be a very productive summer for tasty mangs.
Have a safe week and good fishin'.