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On the Water: Strong winds disrupt good fishing

January 25, 2017
By Capt. Bill Russell , Pine Island Eagle

After a beautiful week on the water, it came to an end with strong winds over the weekend that kept most boats off the water.

Very light winds during the week allowed boats of all sizes to venture offshore into the Gulf of Mexico in search of a variety of fish. Tripletail to 13 pounds were sight-fished around crab buoys from Redfish Pass south to Knapp's Point in 30 to 50-foot depths. Live shrimp were the bait of choice with mid-day sunny skies giving the best opportunity.

Consistent catches came while targeting bottom fish around nearshore reefs, ledges and rock piles. Sheepshead were the top target often mixed with mangrove snapper, grunts, plus a few flounder and permit.

Article Photos

Rhonda Courtney, visiting from Keokuk, Iowa, was all smiles after a good battle with a nice permit. She was fishing in the Gulf of Mexico near Boca Grande with Capt. Bill Russell.


Once the wind dies down and the rough water subsides, look for good fishing, especially for sheepshead, to continue in these areas. Live shrimp rigged various ways was the preferred bait. Schools of Spanish mackerel and false albacore were also caught around these areas while watching for birds and feeding activity.

Wreck fishing further offshore yielded amberjacks to near 50 pounds, plus sharks, barracudas and a couple cobia. Also, a few blackfin tuna were reported from depths between 50 and 80 feet. The grouper bite was slow at times, but some nice reds, plus a mix of snapper, grunts and porgy were boated in 60 to 90-foot depths.

Inshore, with the water temperature reaching 70 degrees this week, there were reports of good numbers of blacktip sharks in mid-Pine Island Sound and Charlotte Harbor, also a couple tarpon were sighted in the Sound. Large schools of bluefish and ladyfish were located in or around Boca Grande and Captiva passes where lots of birds and surface feeding was a dead giveaway. Almost any small lure or bait tossed into the feeding activity was an instant hook-up.

Anglers targeting sheepshead inshore found most of their success around the gulf passes. As usual, targeting some type structure, including docks, piers, bridges, rocks and ledges, turned up respectable catches of fish to 5 pounds. Pompano, flounder, snook and black drum were also caught. If you are without a boat, the Bokeelia Fishing Pier and Sanibel Fishing Pier also hold a good number of fish.

Sea trout, with a few to 19 inches, were caught in south Matlacha Pass between Masters Landing and Oyster Creek while casting chartreuse or new penny-colored plastics in shrimp or shad tail patterns. In Pine Island Sound, similar sized trout were caught in sand holes off the eastern shore and over grass flats in 3 to 6-foot depths from Rocky Channel south to Chino Island.

Anglers targeting redfish are finding the best success along shorelines and drop-offs and fishing cut bait on bottom with a lot of patience. If you can find a good tide flow and an active mullet school, odds are better. Reds to 31 inches were hooked in the Sound north of the powerlines on the Sanibel side and south of Demere Key. For bait, cut mullet, ladyfish, sardines and pinfish are good choices.

It was pretty darn windy over the weekend, no doubt enough to disrupt fishing for a day or two. By early to mid-week the weather should settle down and once again we should have some great fishing opportunities.

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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