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On the Water: Goodbye summer — fall fishing begins

September 21, 2016
By Capt. Bill Russell , Pine Island Eagle

With waters cooling down ever so slightly, fish are becoming more active throughout the day. As we exit summer and roll into fall this week, anglers should find good fishing for trout, snook and redfish inshore, plus grouper and mackerel in the Gulf.

Sea trout, with a few over 20 inches, were caught in various areas around the Island including north Matlacha Pass, the perimeter of Charlotte Harbor and the northeast corner of Pine Island Sound. The larger fish were busting top-water lures including Zara Spooks and Mirrolures on the morning low tides and caught later in the day in shallow channels and potholes using pinfish under a rattling cork.Redfish were also caught with the same baits from these locations.

School-size trout running from 14 to 16 inches were caught over 3 to 6-foot grass flats between Useppa Island and the fish shacks, between Cabbage Key and Cayo Costa State Park, east of marker 74 in Matlacha Pass, and over the same type bottom between Redfish Pass and Roosevelt Channel. Live shrimp, pilchards, pinfish and pigfish under popping corks, plus Gulp shad and DOA shrimp were the reported baits of choice.

Article Photos

Big snook are moving into the back country as the water cools. Tim Jones of Matlacha won the battle with this big girl while fishing shallow water along the perimeter of Charlotte Harbor. The snook measured 42 inches and was safely released to fight another day. 


Snook to 36 inches were caught and released around Captiva Island on various live baits, and good action with mostly undersize snook was reported from anglers wade fishing along the east and west walls of Charlotte Harbor. Snook to 42 inches were also noted in Matlacha Pass.

Oversized reds were found along Charlotte Harbors eastern shore, northern Pine Island Sound and the Gulf Passes. Most of the fish are averaging near 30 inches and were found in schools from a dozen to a hundred or better. Fish with a smaller average running from 22 to 27 inches were hooked along shorelines in Pine Island Sound between Demere Key and Galt Island.

Offshore, red grouper catches were reported anywhere from 60 to 120 feet out from Redfish Pass and north to Boca Grande. Live pinfish, thread herring and heavy jigs tipped with whole Spanish sardines took fish to 34 inches. Mangrove snapper to 5 pounds and lane snapper were also caught. Schools of Spanish mackerel and bonito were sighted surface feeding anywhere from 5 to 30 miles offshore also.

Finally, summer is over, you can feel the gradual change early in the mornings and I believe the fish feel it, too. The water is cooling down, it's a lot easier to keep a mess of bait alive in the well and the fish can be active any time of day. Unlike summer where it was just too darn hot for fish and anglers in the middle of the day, now is a good time to catch fish the entire day and often the best bite well be smack in the middle of the day.

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'.

As a native of Pine Island, Bill Russell has spent his entire life fishing and learning the waters surrounding Pine Island and as a professional fishing guide for the past 18 years.



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