As far as weather goes, we pretty much experienced it all over the past week, except for snow. If you look back, we had beautiful, mild, sunny days, windy, cold overcast days, rainout days and a couple with dense fog that carried through the morning hours. Much of the week was a challenge for anglers, but a good mix of fish was reported.
Inshore, sheepshead fishing appears to be at its peak, as fish were reported all throughout the inshore waters. They don't mind the cold at all, with water temperatures dropping well below 60 degrees early in week, targeting sheepshead was the best thing going. Most reported were hooked on small or cut shrimp fished in areas including oyster bars, deeper shorelines with hard bottom, docks, piers and other structures. A few locations that turned up some nice fish included canals on the west side of St. James City, creeks and holes in "Ding" Darling, around docks throughout Pine Island Sound and inside Redfish and Boca Grande Passes.
Anglers are catching more Spanish mackerel than one would expect with the cooler weather. Macks up to 24 inches were caught near Bokeelia in Charlotte Harbor, between Useppa Island and the fish shacks in the sound, near the Sanibel Causeway and in Captiva Pass. Saturday we were set up on structure sheepshead fishing in the sound with small pieces of shrimp fished on the bottom and caught at least eight mackerel. With a week of warm weather in the forecast, look for the mackerel action to take off.
After the fog cleared a variety of fish were biting. While vacationing on Cayo Costa, Fred Kienast (Hudson, La.) and Corry and Lonnie Jones (Mason City, La.) found a mix of fish including sheepshead, trout and mackerel. They were fishing Pine Island Sound with Capt. Bill Russell
The trout bite was up and down like the weather with the best action generally reported late morning to mid-afternoon. Working trenches and sand holes along the eastern side of Cayo Costa produced fish to 17 inches, fish to 22 inches were found scattered over similar terrain in the northern sound near Bokeelia. A good number of small fish with a few good ones mixed in were caught around "Ding Darling," and Matlacha Pass oyster bars yielded trout in decent numbers, however most were undersized.
Not too much to report on redfish, small "rat" reds were fairly common catches in the deeper creeks and along oyster bars, but most were below 17 inches. A few upper to over-slot fish were reported from mid to southern Pine Island Sound while soaking cut ladyfish on the bottom over the incoming tide.
Offshore fishing appears to be good when the weather allows. Red grouper, large amberjack, sharks, plus yellowtail and mangrove snapper were found in depths between 80 and 120 feet. Closer in over near-shore reefs in depths of 40 feet or less a good mix of snapper, sheepshead, grunts, porgies and Spanish mackerel were caught.
Although the weather wasn't the best much of last week, it sure beats what was going on not too far to our north. As I write this the sun is out and the forecast is for a week of sunny days into the 80s. If that holds true, the water temperature will quickly rise and should bring us some good fishing.
Have a safe week and good fishin'.