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On the Water: Recent rains effect local fishing patterns

July 16, 2013
Capt. Bill Russell ( , Pine Island Eagle

With Lake Okeechobee releasing huge volumes of fresh water through the Caloosahatchee River into our inshore waters and estuaries, it's bound to effect fishing. Reports from areas in the river near Fort Myers found salinity levels at almost zero, and not much better further west nearer the mouth. Most guides fishing this area found fish on the move with better fishing coming further north into the sound, near the passes or Matlacha Pass. Look for the fresh water dump to continue through the summer rainy season.

In Pine Island Sound, the better fishing reports begun around McKeever Keys at the south end and continued up to Boca Grande Pass. Redfish were hooked on the western side of the sound over the incoming tide off oyster bars and island points. Cut bait and gold spoons were the top baits. Further north, redfish were caught under the mangroves at the keys and islands near Pineland. Cut and live pinfish, shrimp and Gulp shrimp worked best. In Matlacha Pass, redfish from 18 to 30 inches were biting along shorelines north of the bridge over the higher stages of tide. A few snook, with the largest measuring 35 inches, were also caught and released, plus a few good size snapper and trout.

Decent action with catch-and -elease snook was reported inside the passes and along the beaches. Shore-bound anglers found a good snook bite from Blind Pass, with the best action over the late afternoon falling tide. Surprisingly, despite all the rain, and the really dark, stained, inshore water, the Spanish mackerel bite was really good in northern Pine Island Sound and Charlotte Harbor. Macks up to 26 inches were schooled and feeding heavily on small pilchards over deep grass bottom in 7 to 10-foot depths, with the best bite over the incoming water.

Trout reports were sparse, at least for fish of any size. Again due to the fresh water dump from the lake, the best fishing came from Pine Island Sound north of Blind Pass. Flats between Buck Key and Redfish Pass produced good numbers with a large amount running small. Sea trout were also caught in 3 to 6-foot depths over grassy bottom all around Useppa Island and Cabbage Key.

Offshore, when the weather allowed, grouper were found from depths as shallow as 15 feet out to 125-foot depths. Gags up to 33 inches were landed plus reds in depths over 40 feet. Keeper size gags were caught in the shallower depths, however the deeper you fished the larger the grouper. For baits, live grunts, pinfish and heavy yellow jigs with squid, Spanish sardines or pinfish worked best. A few nice gags up to 28 inches were also hooked around structure inshore in Charlotte Harbor, Boca Grande and Captiva Passes.

Sure the heavy volume of rain water will effect or fishing, particularly inshore, but just how much remains to be seen. The fish are still around and they still have to eat, you might just have to work a little harder to find them.

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

Have a safe week and good fishin'.



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