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On the Water: It was a slow week out on the water

November 23, 2016
By Capt. Bill Russell , Pine Island Eagle

While I spent the past week out of town and off the water, it appeared I returned to find a slow bite and areas of red tide. A combination of a full moon, a cool front that dropped through and possible outbreaks of red tide made it a very slow bite for many anglers.

Dead fish, believed to be a result of red tide, were reported in north Matlacha Pass, Charlotte Harbor and sporadically along the gulf beaches. Red tide is a naturally-occurring, higher-than-normal concentration of the toxic microscopic algae Karenia brevis. A good majority of the fish affected are small pinfish, but a host of other species, including a few game fish, were also noted. My first day back on the water, I fished a few areas where dead fish were seen floating. The bite was extremely slow but the live baits on the line and in the live well remained alive and frisky. That's a good sign the red tide is no longer in the area, the dead fish floated from a distance location or it's a very low dose. One thing I have noticed after witnessing many outbreaks over the years, it seems to affect some species more than others and it's not always the same species. I have seen where catfish and stingrays were killed by the thousands, but not much else. Let's hope with the cooler weather the outbreaks will clear up soon.

A few upper slot redfish were caught in south Matlacha Pass near Tropical Point on cut bait, and several redfish were hooked in Pine Island Sound between Pineland and Panther Key. Snook fishing was decent ahead of the cool down around the barrier islands while targeting docks and piers with live pinfish and pigfish for baits. Most were running undersize with a few larger fish up to 32 inches. A few gag grouper and black drum were also hooked from the same area.

Article Photos

Pamela Fields of Matlacha landed this nice redfish in Matlacha Pass. She was fishing with Capt. Tim Jones, also of Matlacha.


On a positive note, flounder catches were on the rise, with the tasty flat fish up to 18 inches caught in north Matlacha Pass and around Pine Island Sound sand holes.

As we head into the Thanksgiving holiday week if you have family or friends visiting and the weather is nice, it's a great time to get them on the water. Don't be discouraged of reports of red tide or water quality issues. Most outbreaks are isolated, so there are plenty of unaffected areas, if it hasn't completely cleared out for the holiday. Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving and enjoy our outdoors.



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