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On the Water: East winds disrupt fishing around the islands

April 16, 2014
By Capt. Bill Russell , Pine Island Eagle

All was going well on the fishing front, then like the week before, and the week before that, Mother Nature interfered. Strong winds, rain, cooler weather, followed with days of easterly wind, crippled fishing for the better part of the week. Not all was lost, there was some good weather days and decent fishing, but just when the ball gets rolling and the bite is heating up, we hit another road block.

Inshore, pre-front, the fishing was heating up with good reports of snook, large trout and redfish early in the week. Trout to 25 inches were reported around oyster bars, shorelines and docks throughout Pine Island Sound and Charlotte Harbor. Live and cut pinfish, soft plastics and deceiver or Clouser minnow flies worked well over areas with a good tidal push. Smaller trout, about half to small, and half keeper size, were caught while drifting 3 to 6-foot grass flats north of Bokeelia, south of Rocky Channel, and east of Buck Key. Spanish mackerel, ladyfish and jack crevalle were also caught from the same areas. Later in the week after the front moved through the bite dropped off dramatically.

Redfish running in size anywhere from 17 to 30 inches were hooked early in the week on high water along shorelines and islands along Charlotte Harbor, around the keys on the eastern side of the sound, and in "Ding" Darling Wildlife Refuge. After the front, on a morning when the north wind gave us one of the lowest tides I have seen in a long time, Capt. Shawn McQuade found a school of reds in Pine Island Sound trapped in a large pothole with everything surrounding it pretty much dry. The school was estimated at several hundred and gave non-stop action for the better part of a couple hours. According to Capt. McQuade, "It was like fishing out of a barrel."

Article Photos

Bill Valpie of South Fort Myers landed this big redfish on a sunny afternoon just before the last cool front arrived. He was fishing between Matlacha and Bokeelia with Capt. Bill Russell.


We are beginning to hear of more tarpon sightings and hook-ups each week. Several large fish were jumped in the northern sound on either large pinfish under a float or soaking a cut ladyfish on bottom. A few scattered fish were also located off the sand bars off the east and western walls of Charlotte Harbor. Small pods of tarpon were frequent sightings off the Captiva/Sanibel beaches just outside the idle buoys. Look for the numbers to increase in the very near future.

Offshore, most anglers are targeting red grouper with good results, weather permitting. Keeper size reds were caught in depths from 75 to 130 feet from southwest off Knapp's Point on Sanibel to west of Boca Grande Pass. The deeper the water the larger the fish on average. Most were caught while setting a drift over hard or coral bottom with live baits or jigs tipped with squid or Spanish sardines or tipped with 8-inch Gotcha Tails. Snapper, porgies and grunts were also caught over the hard bottom.

A few king mackerel were caught while grouper diggers deployed a flat line with live bait in the 70 to 90-foot range and bonito schools were found 3 miles or less from the beaches.

If we could just complete a week where the water temperature stayed above 70 degrees the whole time, what a difference it would make. Each time one of these fronts drops through fishing is poor for several days after.

What we need is a couple weeks of consistent weather to keep the ball rolling. Let's hope this is the week it starts!

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

Have a safe week and good fishin'.



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