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On the Water: Expect better days soon out on the water

February 17, 2016
By Capt. Bill Russell , Pine Island Eagle

Finally, we put together a week with no rain. We still had some chilly temperatures and wind to deal with but it sure was nice to see bright blue skies. As far as fishing goes, cooler water temperatures made for a slow bite at times, and then there were days with a decent bite.

As expected with the cooler days, targeting sheepshead was the best bet. Fish up to 5 pounds were landed fishing structure, including docks, piers and bridges, plus mangrove shorelines with a deep drop-off and hard bottom. Shrimp was the top bait, fished on a small hook and sinker rig, rigged on a light jig head or tipped on a white or yellow jig. In Pine Island Sound, many areas yielding sheepshead also held mangrove snapper and black drum.

In Matlacha Pass, sea trout were caught around Indian Fields and south of Marker 72. Fish ranged from 12 to 18 inches and were scattered over grass flats in 3 to 5-foot depths. White, pearl and new penny-colored DOA shrimp, plus live shrimp under popping corks worked best.

Similar trout reports were noted in north Pine Island, west of Pineland and across Charlotte Harbor near Bull Bay. Trout are primarily sight feeders and prefer clean or clear water. With the recent weather, you may have to search a little to find the fishy water, most of the inshore waters are dark and tannin stained from rain-off. That's OK as long as it's clear with several feet visibility.

Reports of redfish were of small reds, mostly below the 18-inch minimum size. They were caught under creek overhangs in Matlacha Pass and Pine Island Sound, and sand drop-offs along shorelines in mid-Pine Island Sound. Shrimp tipped jigs and live or cut shrimp were the top baits.

Mangrove and lane snapper, plus grunts, were caught in decent numbers west of Captiva in depths from 30 to 50 feet. Shrimp and sardines were the preferred baits. A few red grouper were landed in depths between 50 and 70 feet, plus several nice gag grouper that were caught and released.

If you been on the water you have no doubt noticed the waters are stirred up, muddy and dirty in many areas. This is separate from the rain run-off; much of this was due to the wind. Once we get a little bit of consistent weather you will see a huge improvement. Our waters, both inshore and the gulf, are shallow and easily stirred with strong winds, and we had several days with gale forces.

With a normal weather pattern our waters will improve and fishing should become a lot more consistent.

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

Have a safe week and good fishin'.



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