With a week of warm weather behind us water, temperatures are on the rise opening up fishing possibilities inshore and off.
Spanish mackerel anglers found increasing numbers of mackerel throughout our waters. From land, macks were landed from the Matlacha Bridge, the Bokeelia Pier, Sanibel Pier, Sanibel Causeway Islands and Blind Pass jetties. From boat, mackerel were found throughout Pine Island Sound, Charlotte Harbor, upper and lower Matlacha Pass and the gulf passes. They were caught on live shrimp under corks or casting small spoons or jigs over 4 to 8-foot depths.
Mackerel are great eating (one of my favorites) and best when fresh, they don't freeze well. I recommend keeping enough for a fresh meal or two. As the water warms the mackerel action well only get better.
As the water warms the trout are getting bigger. Pictured is Joe Lux visiting from Ames, Iowa with a 22 inch trout that took a live shrimp. Joe was fishing Pine Island Sound with Capt. Bill Russell
With temperatures warming, sea trout were caught throughout open water grass flats over depths from 2 to 5 feet. Some of the larger fish were hooked over the edges of sand depressions on the flats. Live shrimp, DOA shrimp and GULP shrimp under popping/rattling corks worked best. Fish were located throughout Pine Island Sound off both the east and west side and also across Charlotte Harbor near Bull Bay. Trout over 20 inches were reported and larger fish well become more common as the water warms.
Over the late afternoons this past week we have begun to see our first decent daytime high tides of the year. As we progress into the month, tides will continue to get higher and more frequent. With the higher water, a few anglers found mid to upper slot redfish under the mangroves and off island points from McKeever Keys north to Demere Key in the lower sound and along the backside of Cayo Costa to the north. Cut bait, including ladyfish, sardines and pinfish on a circle hook on the bottom, was the preferred bait. With the warming water a few big stingrays are moving onto the flats, don't be surprised if a big one sucks in your redfish bait.
The inshore sheepshead bite was up and down - generally the better the weather the slower the bite. It was easy to catch a mess of undersized fish at any time, but most reports of larger fish came from days with a little adversity, including fog, overcast skies and wind. The larger fish should begin their push offshore to spawn soon, look for good concentrations inside the barrier island and gulf passes.
Sheepshead fishing was very good over near shore reefs according to Capt. Shawn McQuade. Fishing depths from 25 to 40 feet turned up plenty of big sheeps, plus grunts, porgies and a few hogfish. Like inshore, the action was best with cloud cover or a slight breeze.
Further offshore red grouper were reported from 85 to 100 feet. Fish up to 28 inches were taken over hard bottom on live baits and jig/squid combos.
If we get a couple warms weeks of weather, look for fishing to heat up. Fish don't have a calendar to let them know when spring has arrived, with days getting longer and water temperatures rising, the unofficial start to spring fishing could begin at any time if the warm weather continues. Let's hope!
Have a safe week and good fishin'.