With another week of mixed weather including heavy thunderstorms, beautiful days, and lots of fresh water intrusion, anglers found redfish and grouper cooperative.
Inshore, redfish were a primary target for many anglers, either choosing to fish them over the shallow grass flats on the low water or taking advantage of the high tide and fishing under the bushes. The best baits for the morning or evening lows were top water lures that imitated small mullet, however many areas are loaded with floating grass, making lures difficult. The north end of Matlacha Pass, on the inside of Smokehouse Bay and Buzzard Bay, and the southern portion of Pine Island Sound near Regla Island and Buck Key yielded reds from 19 to 25 inches. Reds were often found in several dozen feeding over the shallows.
On the high water some anglers found fish on just about every Island Point, while others struggled to find any. Baits varied and what worked for some, not so much for others. Pinfish and shrimp seemed to work the best, while live pinfish connected with reds for some anglers, others found a pinfish cut in half or with the tail cut off and fished on bottom was the ticket. Some anglers found redfish only willing to eat shrimp and completely ignoring any baitfish, live or dead, when fished side by side with the shrimp. Whatever the bait was, the key for most hook ups was a bait presentation deep under the shade of the mangroves. Fish from 17 to 28 inches were caught in areas that included the inside bays around Two Pines on Charlotte Harbors eastern shore, the eastern shore of Matlacha Pass north of McCardle Island, Wulfert Keys in southern Pine Island Sound and various Keys and Islands near Pineland, and the eastern shore of Captiva Island.
Six-year-old Lynnlee Maze of Cape Coral fought hard to win the battle with this big Spanish mackerel. Lynnlee and her family were fishing in north Matlacha Pass with Capt. Bill Russell.
Spanish Mackerel were caught throughout the area by boat and also from land from the Matlacha Bridge and the Sanibel Fishing Pier, but were very inconsistent form day to day. Inshore, most were reported in water depths from 5 to 9 feet in areas that included the flats on either side of the Sanibel Causeway, east of Foster's Point on Captiva, between Part and Useppa Islands, and between Bokeelia and the northern tip of Patricio Island. Inshore waters are very dark and often very dirty, look for the best water and watch for birds. Live pilchards, shrimp, small pinfish, and small shiny lures were the best baits, fished on the incoming tide. Trout, with a lot of them running small, bluefish, ladyfish, jacks, and small blacktip sharks were also in the mix.
Tarpon from 10 to 60 pounds were often sighted in small schools rolling on the surface around the Matlacha Bridge and also in Roosevelt Channel at Captiva. They generally were most active early and late in the day or after a rain storm.
Offshore, Captain Sean McQuade reports grouper in depths from 50 to 80 feet. Gag and red grouper up to 29 inches were boated, plus mangrove snapper and porgy. Gag grouper up to 24 inches were also caught a short distance west of Redfish Pass over hard bottom in 30 to 35 feet of water, plus several nice mangrove snappers. Captain Mark Westra found good action all week fishing near shore artificial reefs west of Sanibel within sight of land. Big barracuda, goliath grouper, and sharks were in good numbers, plus snapper and mackerel.
This month fishing on an overcast day with a breeze can be a blessing. It can get hot as heck on a sunny, calm day, but very enjoyable with a few clouds and a little wind. I really think the fish take notice too; they always seem to bite better under these conditions. If you don't like fishing this month because it's just too darn hot, the next time we have an overcast day, give it a try.
Have a safe week and good fishin'.