After speaking with different anglers, fishing was all over the board over the past week. While a few spoke of really good days, the majority of fishermen reported mediocre to poor fishing. Plus the weekend brought us some windy conditions with the threat of rain storms that didn't help matters.
Offshore, before the windy weekend kicked in, a few boats reported decent catches of snapper and grouper. Mangrove and yellowtail snapper were chummed off reefs in 70 to 80-foot depths and keeper size red grouper were boated in 60 to75 feet.
Snapper were caught with live shrimp and pilchards, and the grouper were taken on large live pinfish and grunts.
Michael Anable left the heat wave behind in Phoenix, Ariz., to come to Pine Island for a few days of cool fishing. He worked hard for his first redfish but eventually scored with this fat red that fell just shy of 27 inches. The redfish was caught in northern Matlacha Pass while fishing with Capt. Bill Russell June 29.
Closer to shore, within a few miles of the beach, large concentrations of tarpon were located off northern Cayo Costa and southern Gaspirilla Island, or above or below Boca Grande Pass. The bite wasn't hot but hook-ups were reported on live crabs and squirrel fish.
Inshore, many anglers reported that fishing just seemed to be off. Bait was also tough for those that cast net their own. Catching pilchards or shiners was no problem, but unless you had a 1/4 inch mesh net it generally looked like a Christmas tree there was so many tiny baits gilled. Catching decent size pinfish was no problem and was the preferred redfish bait. The small pins were fished live and the larger ones cut in half and fished on bottom.
The most consistent redfish reports came from southern Pine Island Sound from Captiva south to Ding Darling where fish up to 30 inches were hooked off oyster bars and along the mangrove shorelines. The higher stages of tide gave the best action. A few redfish also were reported from Matlacha Pass at Indian Fields and near Masters Landing but most were singles.
Trout fishermen often found it tough catching many over the 15-inch minimum size. There were plenty to bend a rod, but a large percentage was running 12 to 14 inches. Some of the better reports with larger fish came from areas near the passes and also along the beaches around submerged structure. The deeper grass flats around Bokeelia also had a few big fish mixed with the often abundant smaller specks.
One bright spot over the past week, and for the month, is the number of mangrove snapper inshore. Fish from 10 to 14 inches were found in good numbers around oyster bars in south Matlacha Pass and the mouth of the Caloosahatchee River, along mangrove shorelines and most any type of structure in the sound and Charlotte Harbor, and around docks and pilings inside the passes. Small pinfish, pilchards, and shrimp were the top baits - remember to scale down the tackle with a small hook and leader to help fool them into biting. Mangrove snapper are some of the tastiest fish in our waters, take advantage of them while they are available.
Heading into the July 4th holiday, we are on good tides and the bite overall should improve. Every so often we get a week or two where things just seem out of sync and many anglers are left scratching their heads. Let's hope July kicks off with some fishing fireworks and those tough fishing days quickly become a distant memory.
Have a safe Holiday week and good fishin'.