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On the Water: Hot days slow the fish bite in the area

September 28, 2016
By Capt. Bill Russell , Pine Island Eagle

Summer-like weather continued into the first week of autumn making for some hot, sticky days on the water. With the heat and often slow tides, anglers that kept on the move often had the best luck while staying cool.

Inshore, high tides early in the morning gave the best bite for a variety of fish including snook, trout, redfish, snapper and Spanish mackerel, and then the bite slowed after mid-day.

Schooling redfish were located off the east side of north Captiva between Redfish and Captiva passes and off the eastern side of Charlotte Harbor. The majority of the fish were running oversize but there are keeper-size fish mixed in. Redfish were also reported under mangroves and off oyster bars around McKeever and Buck keys in lower Pine Island Sound and in the northern sound along the eastern shore of Cayo Costa State Park.

Article Photos

Steven Alexander of Fort Myers took advantage of the flat, calm waters to hook and land this big permit. Steve was fishing west of Sanibel in the Gulf of Mexico with Captain Jason Ramer.


A few anglers scored with good snook shortly after first light while casting mullet imitating top-water lures along shorelines in north Matlacha Pass. A decent snook bite was also noted along the barrier island near the passes while targeting structure with various live baits including finger mullet, pigfish, pinfish and thread herring. Anglers fishing the coolness of night hooked into a few good snook from the Matlacha Drawbridge and the Sanibel Pier. Handpicked live shrimp and palm-sized pinfish were the favored baits.

The better sea trout reports came from mid to northern Pine Island Sound in areas with good water clarity. Areas inside Redfish Pass, near Rocky Channel, and off the east side of Useppa Island yielded trout up to 19 inches with a lot of smaller fish mixed in. Most fish reported were hooked over grassy bottom in 4 to 7-foot depths while drifting. Spanish mackerel were also caught from these same areas plus in Charlotte Harbor north of the Bokeelia Piers.

With very little wind it made for some smooth days offshore. Targeting nearshore structure from 3 to 9 miles offshore, boats caught a variety including mangrove and lane snapper, gag grouper, with must measuring below the new 24-inch size limit. Also a few boats hooked permit, tripletail, barracuda and false albacore. Spanish mackerel were reported from just off the beaches out 20-plus miles.

Further offshore, grouper diggers turned up red grouper to 17 pounds, a few scamp and mangrove snapper to 5 pounds. A couple gag grouper over 30 inches were also reported.

While it felt cool first thing in the morning, it was a pretty hot week on the water. With the full sun and afternoon falling tides inshore water temperatures climbed above 90 degrees. A slight cool down would be welcomed by both anglers and fish anytime in the near future.

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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