Despite a week that predominantly gave us favorable weather, many anglers experienced slower than expected fishing. Less than optimal tides were partially to blame as many days held very slow tides. Of course, some fishermen still found success and those that put in the time were often rewarded for their effort.
Before the winds picked up at mid-week, Capt. Shawn McQuade found the grouper bite slower than usual but still caught red grouper up to 15 pounds in 60 to 90-foot depths. While dead sardines worked, by far the best action came on live pinfish, and the bigger the better. His anglers also boated mangrove snapper and porgy from the same depths. Other anglers noted drifting over hard or coral bottom the key to success for red grouper up to 9 pounds in 60 to 75-foot depths west Redfish Pass. Squid, sardines and live pinfish were the preferred baits, snapper, with some exceeding 2 pounds, were also taken from the same area.
Inshore, it appears the larger sheepshead are making their inshore migration as fish up to 4 pounds were taken in areas around the Sanibel Causeway, the Sanibel Pier and under docks in Pine Island Sound. Small live shrimp was the top bait with the better bite occurring during the time of day with the best tide movement. Black drum up to 5 pounds were also mixed with the sheepshead. Sheepshead fishing should get better as the water gets cooler. Look for them around inshore structure, oyster bars, around the passes and along the beaches.
Jim Costello of Minnesota is hooked after landing his first snook, and a big one. The snook topped 40 inches, it was caught and safely released near St James while fishing with Capt. Mark Westra.
Last week trout and mackerel fishing was really good, this week not so much. You could still catch a mess but it wasn't nearly automatic like the week previous. With above normal temperatures, the trout were spread out across vast areas of grass flats with depths from 3 to 5 feet holding a good number of fish. The best way to catch enough for dinner was to drift an area while fishing either live shrimp or Berkley Gulp baits under a rattle or popping bobber or fan casting soft plastics on a quarter-ounce head. White, chartreuse and new penny were the preferred colors. Mackerel are still holding over 6 to 9-foot depths in the harbor and sound. The poor tides really slowed the bites, but that should improve this week.
Most anglers targeting redfish are finding the larger fish around mullet schools throughout the back waters of Pine Island Sound. Skilled fishermen are working the fish with flies and top water lures; others are finding gold spoons, live shrimp and cut bait the ticket for success. A few mid-slot reds were also caught around island points near the mouth of the Caloosahatchee River over the afternoon incoming tide.
Although snook season is closed, a few big fish were caught and released on both sides of Pine Island on live bait and artificial.
A very slight cool down this past week dropped the water temperature a few degrees but not by much. Our inshore water temperatures are well above normal. Sometimes I believe this confuses the fishery and every few weeks there are a few days where it's like hitting the reset button. The bite becomes slow or unpredictable then picks right back up again. Either way, I spent a couple afternoons on the highway around town over the past week, and I will take a slow day of fishing than putting up with that mess any day of the week! If interested, we have Holiday Gift Certificates available.
Have a safe week and good fishin'.