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On the Water: May the winds stop

May 21, 2014
By Capt. Bill Russell , Pine Island Eagle

Overall it's been a very tough week for anglers, and as usual this spring, it was due to the weather. Generally a full moon falling in the middle of May is something to get excited about, but even strong tides couldn't overcome very windy days, let alone a very late season cool front.

Nothing hampers tarpon fishing like strong winds. Everyone is affected; skiff angler's sight fishing, live bait anglers working off the beaches, harbor and sound, even those targeting fish in the gulf passes are handicapped. Not only does the wind make it impossible to fish many of the areas, but it makes it very difficult to locate schooling fish. Often the best choice is to anchor up in known tarpon areas and fish dead baits on the bottom or suspended live baits and let the fish find you.

Tarpon hook-ups were reported in Pine Island Sound south of Demere Key and between Captiva Pass and Cabbage Key. Several tarpon were also hooked in Charlotte Harbor near Bokeelia while drifting live thread herring. Early in the week when the wind was from an easterly direction, protected areas along the gulf beaches, including outside of Redfish and Blind passes held small concentrations of tarpon. Strong west winds coupled with full moon tides brought extreme high water over a few afternoons making for strong hill tides in Boca Grande Pass. The late afternoon falling (hill tide) water flushed a lot of small crabs through Boca Grande Pass and many participants found a great tarpon bite an hour or two before dark over several days.

Article Photos

First shark!

Visiting from Minnesota, Aaron Terhaar was all smiles while he caught and released this 4-foot blacktip shark in Pine Island Sound near Pineland.  It was hooked on  a large chunk of ladyfish suspended under a balloon while fishing with Capt. Bill Russell.
Photo provided

Tarpon anglers reported lots of sharks over the week, especially black tip or spinner sharks, plus a couple cobia around Boca Grande Pass.

While redfish anglers look forward to high tides to fish under the mangroves, at times the tide just gets too high. That's what happened over several days, the full moon high and strong westerly breeze pushed water to excessively high levels and often made targeting reds difficult. Before the highest stages of tide, decent reports of redfish averaging 24 to 29 inches were reported from Black Island and other areas near Pineland and also in the southern sound between the power lines and Buck Key. Most were taken on cut pinfish under the mangroves. A good redfish bite was also reported in southern Matlacha Pass while fishing live pilchards and pinfish along shorelines near Reckem's Point. Jack crevalle, small black tip sharks and a few snook were also caught from these areas.

With strong winds came dirty water, making it difficult to locate or catch trout with any consistency. The waters of Matlacha Pass and eastern Charlotte Harbor seemed to be less affected than other areas. No great numbers were reported, but trout up to 24 inches were hooked along shorelines and sand holes.

The month of May is mostly behind us but we have only had a day or two of May weather and fishing. May has always been one of, if not my favorite month for fishing, not because of the opportunities at catching so many different species, but because of the weather. Generally, it's a very predictable month bringing sunny mild days and light winds through the early afternoon, followed by a welcome afternoon sea breeze and possibly late day thunderstorm. To date it's been anything but predictable, with strong winds from about every direction; it's been a very difficult month to fish, especially target tarpon.

We still have a little time left, let's keep our fingers crossed that our weather gets into more of a typical pattern, and we can salvage a few good days before the month is gone.

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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