With another week of the "Dog Days" of summer in the books, anglers found many species of fish cooperative despite the heat.
Inshore, redfish, snook and mangrove snapper kept anglers busy and often happy as good catches were reported. Right on schedule, large redfish are beginning to school up, with fish up to 32 inches caught and released. Schools of a hundred fish or better were located in Pine Island Sound and Charlotte Harbor. Keeper or slot-size fish between 18 and 27 inches were caught on the morning high water on island points and oyster bars. The best bite was the last few hours of the incoming into the first hour or two of the falling. Juvenile tarpon up to 20 pounds were also reported from redfish anglers in southern Matlacha Pass.
Mangrove snapper continue to be very abundant just about anywhere inshore. If you are targeting snook, trout or reds and your fishing with proper tackle, meaning a small (1/0) hook and bait, you well catch snapper. We have caught them just about everywhere we fished over the week, from oyster bars, to under the mangroves, open grass flats and island points. Many are good size pushing 14 inches and a few caught in or around the Passes measured near 20 inches.
While vacationing in Matlacha from Buckhurst Hill, England, Clive Buckley and son Dan pulled these two big redfish from a large school. They were fishing Pine Island Sound with Capt. Bill Russell.
Snook continue to provide fun entertainment on the beaches and around the passes. The better beach fishing was on the higher water and pass fishing was best over the falling tide. Snook to 35 inches were also reported near Two Pines on Charlotte Harbors eastern shore and across the Harbor at Bull Bay. Snook season remains closed through the month.
Spanish mackerel were caught throughout the area, both inshore and a short distance off the beaches. Inshore, most were reported in water depths from 5 to 9 feet in areas that included the flats on either side of the Sanibel Causeway, east of Foster's Point on Captiva, between Part and Useppa Islands and between Bokeelia and the northern tip of Patricio Island. Live pilchards, shrimp, small pinfish and small shiny lures were the best baits. Trout (with a few over 20 inches, but most running small), bluefish, ladyfish and jacks were also in the mix. Off the beaches, Spanish mackerel were often located harassing bait pods - look for birds and surface activity. Schools of tarpon were also reported tormenting bait balls off the beaches.
Offshore, grouper diggers report the best bite was from morning to about noon, with a decent bite on reds but slower on gags. Gags up to 28 inches were boated, plus large mangrove snapper in depths between 70 and 95 feet. Red grouper were found in depths between 55 and 80 feet along with lane snapper and porgies.
In August our weather seems to change almost daily. For the inshore fisherman, an overcast day with a breeze can be a blessing. It can get hot as heck on a sunny calm day, but very enjoyable with a few clouds and a little wind. I really think the fish take notice, too; they always seem to bite better under these conditions. If you don't like fishing this month because it's just too darn hot, the next time we have an overcast day, give it a try.
Have a safe week and good fishin'.