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On the Water: Warmer weather brings better fishing

March 16, 2016
Capt. Bill Russell , Pine Island Eagle

Inshore water temperatures surged above 70 degrees over the past week thanks to mild days and sunny skies. Although it was very windy more days than not, fishing became increasingly better as the water warmed.

Trout fishing really took a turn for the better this week with lots of big fish over 20 inches reported throughout Pine Island Sound, Charlotte Harbor and Matlacha Pass. In the Sound, fish were caught from Wood Key south past Captiva Rocks, south of Cabbage Key and also north of the Blind Pass Channel.

In Matlacha Pass, the bigger fish were found hanging over drop-offs along the edge of the channel north of the bridge, and around Charlotte Harbor most were hooked while working baits along bar drop-offs or Island points on high water.

Article Photos

Snook are warming up and getting hungry: Keith  Riley of Kalamazoo Michigan, won the battle with this hard-fighting 32-inch snook. He was fishing mid Pine Island Sound with Capt. Bill Russell
Photo provided

With water temperature finally stabilized above 70 degrees, snook are becoming active. Fish to 32 inches were boated in Matlacha Pass near Sword's Point plus a few at night from the Matlacha Bridge. Snook from 18 to 31 inches were landed in Pine Island Sound while targeting shorelines and docks.

Redfish were found in Pine Island Sound and off the east side of Charlotte Harbor. Most fish were very skittish with the morning low tides. Waders, kayakers and a stealthy approach with a technical skiff were the most productive methods for connecting with the shallow-water reds. On the afternoon high water, fish to 26 inches were caught tight along mangrove shorelines and along oyster bars.

Spanish mackerel are beginning to make an appearance inshore as fish averaging 1 to 2 pounds were caught while targeting trout north of Patricio Island and between Part and Useppa Island in the Sound.

Sheepshead and mangrove snapper, plus an occasional black drum, were found in Pine Island Sound while targeting deep Island points, docks and structure inside the Gulf passes.

A couple reports came in of permit and pompano caught near the outside shoreline of "Ding" Darling Wildlife Refuge and near Safety Harbor on North Captiva. Several sharks to 4 feet were hooked or landed in Pine Island Sound and off Bokeelia while drifting grassflats, a sure sign that big fish are moving in.

With luck this week will bring us more warm days to finish off the winter season and head into spring.

A little less wind would be nice, but it's hard to complain, its warm, not raining and fish are biting!

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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