Some days fishing was good, some days it was tough, and some days anglers had to work around Mother Nature. That was the consensus of most fishermen over the past week, both inshore and off.
Inshore the water remains very dark, but in Charlotte Harbor the clarity was decent and even better in mid and northern Pine Island Sound. High morning tides were the best time to look for redfish tucked up under mangrove shorelines or on oyster bars. Noisy or smelly baits worked best. Cut pinfish, ladyfish, and top water lures fooled fish in the sound, including keys and islands north of Rocky Channel, between Demere Key and Flamingo Bay, and on the Sanibel side from the power lines north to Blind Pass. In Matlacha Pass, scattered redfish were reported near the power lines in the south pass and from Smokehouse Bay to Bokeelia to the north. At times floating grass makes it near impossible to work any type of artificial, this is the time for cut bait. Mangrove snapper up to 13 inches were also caught from many of these areas.
Catching trout of any size with any consistency has been a challenge. The better reports came from the sound between Redfish Pass and Pineland, areas with the clearest water. At times the bite was great but most are running a little under size. Capt. Cliff Simer reports fishing grass flats east of Captiva Pass and catching trout on every cast, but almost all were running less than an inch under size. Mangrove snapper were also caught over the same flats. Watch for schools of small "raining" bait fish on the surface and fish those areas, trout and a host of other predators are following the schools throughout the sound.
Logan Shaw visiting from Marshall, Ind., with his first redfish and it measured just shy of 27 inches. Logan hooked the red on a live pinfish while fishing Matlacha Pass with Capt. Bill Russell.
Snook are still along the beaches, most are small, but there were a few larger fish hooked. Live pilchards, pig fish and soft plastics were the baits of choice around Blind Pass, and off the beaches near Redfish and Captiva passes. Spanish mackerel, jack crevalle, and mangrove snapper were also hooked.
Small pods of tarpon were sight fished in the Sound, Harbor, and Matlacha Pass. In the sound, fish were often rolling north of the power lines near Regla Island, where several hook-ups were reported on live pinfish under a float. In Charlotte Harbor, the fish were active in the morning hours between Bokeelia and Two-Pines. Live crabs, small ladyfish and thread herrings worked best. In Matlacha Pass, smaller tarpon were schooling near the bridges and the channel north of the bridge in the morning and evening hours.
Offshore, near shore reefs are still giving rod bending action with barracuda, sharks and goliath grouper. Mangrove snapper, mackerel and a few nice trout were also caught on live pilchards, herring or shrimp. Further out, keeper size red grouper were boated in 60 to 70-foot depths, plus a good mix of lane snapper, grunts and porgies. Larger gag grouper were caught in depths from 75 to 110 feet, with live bait working best.
As the month of August begins to wind down, it's time to start watching for large groups of schooling redfish inshore. It's common to see a school of several hundred or more big reds pushing down the edge of a shallow bar, eating everything in their path. If you are aware and prepared it can be a great time. From now until the first real cold front (most like mid to late October), keep your eyes peeled and a rig ready, you never know when that big school might appear.
Have a safe week and good fishin'.