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On the Water: It was a steady week of fishing

June 21, 2017
By Capt. Bill Russell , Pine Island Eagle

The weather was more cooperative over the past week - it wasn't perfect but there were enough favorable days to get on the water with good results. Inshore, despite many days with slower tides, the bite was pretty good and offshore, days with calm seas allowed anglers to make long runs into gulf waters with positive results.

Morning trout fishing resulted in limits of fish up to 18 inches in Pine Island Sound from Rocky Channel south to Red Light Shoals. The best action came while drifting grass flats in 3 to 5-foot depths over the incoming tide. Lots of small sharks were also roaming the flats harassing anglers. Trout were also reported off the Blind Pass Rocks and along Bowman's Beach on Sanibel.

Inshore snapper fishing has really taken off over the past week or so with easy limits throughout the area reported. They were caught around oyster bars, mangrove shorelines, blow downs along islands, dock, piers, bridges, about anywhere with a little structure and tide flow. Right now there are massive amounts of very small pilchards and herring on about every grass flat. These oily little fish are killer snapper bait and one throw of the cast net should give you enough for the hook and for chumming. Beware, they are really small, small enough that a good number still gill off in a quarter inch net. I wouldn't recommend throwing a net with a mesh size any larger. These small baits grow pretty quick, in a couple weeks they will be the perfect size for summer fishing. The best bet is to rig these little baits with a number one circle hook and a couple feet of 12 to 20-pound fluorocarbon leader and, if necessary, just enough weight to make a cast to the target area.

Article Photos

Nine-year-old Savanna  Hendrix  with her first snook. While spending Father's Day weekend with her parents at the Anglers Inn in Matlacha, Savanna caught snook, flounder, trout and enough tasty mangrove snapper to treat her dad to a fresh fish dinner for Father's Day at the Sandy Hook Restaurant. They were fishing Matlacha Pass with Capt. Bill Russell.


Tarpon were reported in all the usual places, including up and down the beaches, Boca Grande Pass, Charlotte Harbor and Pine Island Sound. In Boca Grande, most fish were hooked while jigging the morning tide or drifting crabs or squirrel fish. Early in the week the evening hill tide gave good action with tarpon slurping small pass crabs riding the outbound tide through the Pass.

Catch-and-release snook fishing continued with good numbers caught around the barrier Islands and along the east and western walls of Charlotte Harbor. Steady action with fish ranging from 22 to 26 inches was common. The best bait were the same small baits mentioned for snapper or small artificials that imitated them. Larger snook were caught on the outgoing tide around structure around Blind, Redfish and Captiva passes, also snook 40 inches and over were caught and released near the mouth of the Caloosahatchee River.

Offshore, good grouper and snapper catches were reported in depths from 80 to 120 feet. Red grouper to 29 inches, a few large gags, plus mangrove, lane and vermilion snapper filled the fish box. Closer to land in 40 to 50-foot depths, a mix of mangrove and lane snapper, plus grunts and bonito were caught while drifting over live or coral bottom. A few kingfish were also hooked along with snook while fishing Helen's Reef off of Cayo Costa State Park.

Not sure what the weather is gonna deal us this week as a tropical wave is potentially in the forecast. If the weather holds, good fishing should continue - just watch those thunderstorms and bring along lots of drinking water.

If you have a fishing report or for charter information, please contact us at Gulf Coast Guide Service 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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