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On the Water: Full moon brings extreme low tides

December 23, 2013
By Capt. Bill Russell , Pine Island Eagle

If you enjoy fishing low tides, you were in luck last week, a full moon plus a cool front pushed extreme amounts of water from the bays leaving exposed real estate that you seldom see.

Many anglers with boats stored on lifts woke up to tides so low it was impossible to float their vessel. Extreme shallow water skiffs located decent concentrations of redfish in Pine Island Sound, often around schooling mullet.

Fish from 17 to 26 inches were caught around potholes on shallow turtle grass flats near mid-sound. Many of the fish were caught sight-casting with a variety of artificials including DOA shrimp, DOA CAL jigs and Berkley Gulps, cut pinfish soaked on bottom also worked.

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Warmer than usual water has kept Spanish mackerel around and can provide a fun time fishing. Lesley Jones, visiting Pine Island from Montgomery, Wales, UK, caught her first Florida mackerel while fishing Charlotte Harbor near Bokeelia with Capt. Bill Russell.


Redfish were also reported in Matlacha Pass, but with a smaller average. Fish up to 20 inches were caught in the deeper water around oyster bars and oyster bottomed creeks. Live shrimp with a medium split-shot weight to keep it near the bottom or shrimp and jig combo's were a good bet. The best fishing was reported over the final stage of the falling tide and throughout the incoming.

On the cooler, low water days, trout were caught from deeper potholes and bar edges. Fish were running from 14 to 18 inches. Just ahead of the cool down, larger trout were reported in the northern Sound from Captiva Rocks north to the west mouth of Jug Creek over grassy bottom from 3 to 6 feet in depth.

Spanish mackerel and a few bluefish were also feeding over the same bottom.

Following the recent cooler weather, look for the sheepshead bite to heat up. It's that time of year to catch the big fish as they move inshore and along the beaches. We had several days with sheeps up to 4 pounds fishing around oyster bars. Sheepshead and black drum were reported from creeks around "Ding" Darling while bouncing shrimp/jig combos. Also fish are beginning to school around structure in and near the gulf passes.

Our water is finally beginning to cool down, when it gets cooler, to catch fish it's imperative to slow down your bait and keep it on or near the bottom. This is especially true if using artificials - a slow retrieve can be the difference between fishing and catching. With cold water the metabolism of our sub-tropical fish slows way down, they tend to stay on or near the bottom in holes due to the water is generally warmer.

On a sunny day they tend to move up into shallower water to warm up when the sun is high. Either way, if you remember to keep that bait moving slow it will improve your odds.

If you have family or friends visiting for the holidays, I hope you have a chance to get them on the water. Even if the fish aren't biting it's still great to get out there and enjoy natures beauty, watch a school of dolphin play, see how many different species of birds you can spot, pick up a few shells on the beach or maybe gather some oyster for a oyster roast. If you catch a few fish, that's an added bonus.

If interested, we have Holiday Gift Certificates available.

Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas.

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



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