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On the Water: First rain followed with perfect sunny days

July 23, 2014
By Capt. Bill Russell , Pine Island Eagle

Over the week, we started with some rainy days but ended with full days of pretty blue skies and light wind. Early in the week anglers spent a good portion of the days dodging weather, but by week's end storms weren't a problem.

Many anglers are reporting easy limits of tasty mangrove snapper both inshore and off. Inshore, fish are averaging 10 to 14 inches with a few larger and offshore they are running bigger, averaging from 15 to 20 inches. Inshore reports were widespread with snapper reported around the mouth of the Caloosahatchee River; the Sanibel and Bokeelia piers; Blind Pass Bridge; Redfish, Captiva, and Boca Grande passes; and various docks, oyster bars and shorelines throughout Matlacha Pass and Pine Island Sound. Shrimp, pilchards and small pinfish were the go-to baits with best bite coinciding with good tide movement. Offshore, snapper were boated from 30 out past 100 feet while fishing over ledges and reefs.

Also offshore, the gag grouper bite was somewhat slow and red grouper were caught, but action was slower than expected. Reds up to 26 inches were caught in depths from 50 to 80 feet while dropping live pinfish. A few of the largest reds were caught while targeting gag grouper trolling deep diving lures. Sharks of all sizes including bulls over 9 feet were also plentiful offshore.

Article Photos

Caloosa Coast Rowing Club coach Julio Nicolas with his first shark, a blacktip he  caught and re-leased while
fishing Charlotte Harbor with Capt. Bill Russell.
Photo provided

Catch-and-release snook fishing was good along the Sanibel beaches where often the best option was walking the beach and sight-fishing the surf. Fish are feeding on schools of small sardines, the best baits were either flies like a Clouser or Deceiver that imitated the bait, or actually cast netting and baiting up with the small sardines. Several tarpon were also hooked off the beach near Blind Pass on cut bait, live thread herring or small crabs.

Over the days with long hours of falling tide, snook were caught and released at Blind, Redfish and Captiva passes. Many are smaller males, but a few over 40 inches were also hooked while drifting pigfish, pinfish and slippery dicks. Remember snook season is closed, return them to the water quickly, hold and support the larger fish properly, or better yet, do not remove them from the water, and please, do not feed them to Flipper.

Fishing over grass flats in 4 to 7-foot depths, a mixed bag consisting of trout, jacks, ladyfish, bluefish and blacktip sharks were caught around Chino and Regla islands at the southern end of the sound, the western end of Rocky Channel to the north, and off Bokeelia Shoals. These fish are feeding heavily on schools of small baitfish, either netting and using the real thing or small lures that imitate them is the best bet for action.

On the days with no threat of rain, meaning no cloud cover, it is very hot. Shade is at a premium on a boat under those conditions. It doesn't take much, just the shade of a small T-top or bimini can make all the difference. And make sure to bring along a lot more drinking water than you think you will need and drink often. Fishing can be good, and fun when it's hot, just make sure you take the proper measure to enjoy it.

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

Have a safe week and good fishin'.



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