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On the Water

Fishing heated up as the water cooled down

July 9, 2013
Capt. Bill Russell , Pine Island Eagle

There is some good news to come from what seemed liked endless days of rain recently. Overcast skies and rainy days dropped the water temperature considerably and as many anglers reported, turned on the bite.

The cooler temperatures sparked a good redfish bite as fish were caught throughout Matlacha Pass, into Pine Island Sound and in Ding Darling on Sanibel. Many fish were oversize, up to 31 inches, but a good number were in the mid to upper slot of the 18 to 27-inch legal size.

While a few anglers caught fish on scented artificials, the best producer was medium-size live pinfish with the tail cut off. The bait remains alive and wiggles around while putting off a bloody scent in the water. This method took fish off the perimeter of oyster bars, several yards off islands and potholes on the lower tides, and under the shade of the mangroves on the higher water.

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While vacationing on Sanibel Island, Tim and Baylor Merritt of Gatlinburg, Tenn., got in a morning of fishing after the rains subsided. They found good action on redfish and trout over the incoming tide while fishing Matlacha Pass with Capt. Bill Russell.

Tasty mangrove snapper up to 15 inches were caught from Captiva and Boca Grande passes while drifting the rocky ledges. The best time was the last hour of a tide, through the slack and the beginning of the change. The current is much slower during this time putting the odds in favor of the angler.

Small pilchards and pinfish worked best, both are very abundant on the grass flats and make great baits for the smaller mouthed snapper. Snapper were also caught around the piers in Bokeelia, the old phosphate dock at Boca Grande and the Sanibel fishing pier.

Trout action was good over deeper grass flats, the majority are running small, but mixed with bluefish, mackerel and ladyfish, are giving steady action. Some areas worth noting included the flats off Red Light Shoals in the southern sound, flats between the fish shacks and Captiva Pass and between Bokeelia and Cayo Costa. The larger trout were singles or doubles, generally caught by those targeting snook or reds around oyster bars or Island shorelines, where a few up to 24 inches were reported.

Catch and release snook action was found along the beaches from Bowman's on Sanibel, north to Cayo Costa. Look for the fish cruising slowly parallel to the shoreline in the surf or ganged up near any type of submerged structure.

Bait choices included a variety of flies and small artificials that imitated small pilchards and ,of course live pilchards or herrings.

Snook, redfish and trout were reported at Blind Pass off both the east and west side of the bridge.

Unstable weather much of the past week made it difficult to obtain any offshore reports. With better days upcoming we should get some good reports as many anglers are eager to get back out there.

There always a positive and negative to adverse weather, the recent rains really helped to cool down the water, especially inshore.

The downside, we well now get a lot of rain run-off, including the possibility of water released from Lake Okeecho-bee through the Caloosahatchee River. We well just have to wait and see, and hope the positive outweighs the negative.

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

Have a safe week and good fishin'.



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