A full moon and warm weather brought days with good fishing and a wide variety of fish. On the water it really felt like the change of seasons and spring arrived early.
Tarpon hook-ups were reported off the beaches of Sanibel and Fort Myers Beach plus up in Charlotte Harbor. This is a sure sign that the water is warming and the numbers of tarpon should continue to increase in upcoming weeks. Blacktip and spinner sharks were also hooked from these areas.
Cobia is another species that made a presence over the week. Cobia up to 40 inches were caught around Charlotte Harbor and north Matlacha Pass, plus around artificial reefs offshore. Inshore, keep an eye out for cobia swimming with manatees or following large stingrays.
While visiting his grandfather, Urie Boulden, in St. James City over spring break, Trevor Boulden of Newark, Delaware, got in a good morning of fishing with his grandfather catching snook, redfish and trout, including this nice 32-inch snook. They were fishing with Capt. Bill Russell in Matlacha Pass.
Amberjack numbers were good at 90 to 120-foot depths offshore in the gulf with fish to 40 pounds caught over structure. Drop jigging and live blue runners produced best. Around the same depths also yielded red grouper to 14 pounds although the bite for larger grouper was often slow.
At shallower depths, fishing patch reefs turned up good numbers of mangrove and lane snapper, plus sheepshead, grunts and lots of undersized grouper. Spanish mackerel and a few good size king mackerel were also caught.
The Spanish mackerel bite was also good just outside Redfish and Captiva passes, plus Charlotte Harbor near Boca Grande Pass. Many of the macks measured over 24 inches and were mixed with bluefish.
Inshore, the best fishing was over the morning incoming tide with reports of redfish, snook and trout in the Harbor, Pine Island Sound and Matlacha Pass. Redfish to 34 inches were caught along shorelines in north Matlacha Pass often over sandy bottom adjacent to build-ups of rolling grass. Large sea trout were often caught from the same areas, plus trout reports were improved over grass flats around Bokeelia and mid-Pine Island Sound. In the Sound, redfish came from sand potholes or depressions on the morning low tides and over the shallow grass and along shorelines on the higher tide stages.
Snook reports increased in both numbers and size over the week with several fish up to 32 inches reported. Reports came from the "Ding" Darling Wildlife Refuge, Blind Pass, the eastern side of Pine Island Sound, and southern Matlacha Pass. A good bite was often found around creek mouths, oyster bars, docks and island points.
Just about all the fish species our area has to offer were hooked or caught by someone over the past week. This is a really great time to get on the water as fish of all sorts and sizes are moving in every direction. Fishing every day won't be great but if the weather holds there should be a lot more good days than bad ones.
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.