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On the Water: Stone cold front stalls fishing in the area

January 11, 2017
By Capt. Bill Russell , Pine Island Eagle

Fishing was good ahead of the cold front that brought strong winds heading into the weekend, especially offshore fishing.

Red grouper to 29 inches were hauled up from depths between 80 and 110 feet with the larger fish in deeper water. Lane snapper plus a few yellowtail snapper were also taken from this depth along with a mix of grunts and porgy's.

Blackfin tuna running bait schools in relatively shallow water was a big surprise over the week. Tuna up to 25 pounds were often caught in water depths less than 50 feet and at times were mixed with big amberjack, Spanish mackerel and large sharks. The best bet to find the fish was looking for birds, feeding activity and rocketing fish, then shutting down and chumming the area.

Article Photos

Eric Foote, visiting from Ohio with his sons Branson and Weston, all played tug of war with some hard-fighting tuna recently. They were fishing west of Captiva with Capt. Sean McQuade.


King mackerel were found in depths from 35-50 feet as well.

Inshore, with warm water temperatures ahead of the cold front, many anglers were targeting catch-and release-snook with success. Snook to 29 inches were hooked along shorelines in Matlacha Pass, along bars and holes around Charlotte Harbor and under docks around Roosevelt Channel and Blind Pass on Captiva Island.

Reports of sea trout were spotty over the week, at least for fish of any size. Plenty of undersized with a few larger fish were reported off the east side of Charlotte Harbor along the Burnt Store Bar. A few trout to 18 inches were hooked along oyster bars in south Matlacha Pass near the powerlines, and in Pine Island Sound trout were reported from the Flamingo Bay Channel to Red Light Shoals while drifting grass bottom in 3 to 5-foot depths. Live shrimp and Gulp shrimp suspended under popping cork were the top baits. A few pompano were also hooked.

With the arrival of cooler weather, it should give a boost to sheepshead fishing as they thrive in cooler water temperatures. Sheepshead to 18 inches were hooked around docks and piers around St. James, Punta Rassa and Sanibel while fishing live shrimp or shrimp with a small jig head. Sheepshead were also reported around Redfish and Boca Grande passes.

The weekend brought nasty weather but this is Florida, it never lasts very long. It may take a few days for fish to regroup and fishing to pick-up but that's part of winter time fishing.

If you have a fishing report or for charter information or to purchase a Holiday Gift Certificate, please contact us at 239-283-7960, on the Web at www.fishpine-island.com or email: gcl2fish@live.com.

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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