Sign In | Create an Account | Welcome, . My Account | Logout | Subscribe | Submit News | Home RSS

On the Water: Cooler weather interrupts good fishing

March 7, 2018
By Capt. Bill Russell , Pine Island Eagle

Right as fishing was getting good and you could feel the transition from winter to spring, Mother Nature had other thoughts. A cool front followed by strong winds made tough fishing conditions. Action was good early in the week ahead of the front for both inshore and offshore, but conditions made fishing a challenge over the weekend.

For trout anglers, large fish are showing up in good numbers throughout Pine Island Sound and in areas of Charlotte Harbor. Many were running over 20 inches with several measuring up to 25 inches. Of course, the recent weather slowed the action down for a few days, but the bite will pick right back up as the weather subsides. The best fishing was in Pine Island Sound - trout reports came from areas including the flats north of Chino Island, sand holes along the shorelines on either side of the Sound, and between Cayo Costa and Cabbage Key. Fish were caught with shrimp under popping corks, Redfish Magic shad tails in white color, Berkley Gulp Shrimp, suspended Mirrolures and live pinfish or shiners.

On my boat we noticed a big jump in the size of the trout over several days leading up to the cool down. We caught trout up to 25 inches with a good number of fish just shy of 20 inches in northern Pine Island Sound.

Article Photos

Steven Adkins, visiting Pine Island from Virginia Beach, scored with a nice redfish on an afternoon fishing trip. Steven and his parents, Calvin and Michelle, were fishing with Gulf Coast Guide Service and Capt. Bill Russell in Matlacha Pass.


The Spanish mackerel bite was strong ahead of the cool down and should pick right back up as the wind settles. Look for action over bottom with a sand/ grass mix in 5 to 10-foot depths. Hot areas included Charlotte Harbor, west and north of Bokeelia and just outside the gulf passes. If you are shore-bound, the Sanibel and Bokeelia piers are a good choice to hook into some mackerel along with a variety of other fish.

Early last week small schools of redfish were reported on the eastern side of Pine Island Sound where fish up to 30 inches were taken on various artificials. On the afternoon high water, reds up to 27 inches were caught on live bait around oyster bars and shorelines in Charlotte Harbor

The snook bite was going good with fish caught throughout Pine Island Sound, Matlacha Pass and "Ding" Darling Wildlife Refuge. Cooler weather probably effects the snook bite more than any other fish, so needless to say, the bite went from good to so-so. Anglers putting in the time over the weekend and fishing protected waters scored with a few fish up to 32 inches. Look for their appetite to grow after a few warm, sunny days.

Offshore, red grouper to 10 pounds were boated in depths between 70 to 95 feet before the north winds kicked up the seas. At times the bite was extremely slow and other times good. Anglers patiently working an area were rewarded with a box of nice fish. Closer to land the near shore reefs continue to yield a mix of sheepshead, grunts, snapper, flounder and Spanish mackerel. Most fish were caught on shrimp/jig combination or shrimp fished on a small circle hook. Big sheepshead were also reported near the Sanibel Causeway and at Boca Grande Pass.

In March, fishing rebounds from cold fronts quickly, the days are growing longer, average temperature is warmer and the water just doesn't stay cold as long. Look for good fishing as a front approaches, followed by a day or two of slow action after it arrives.

Once the north wind settles down and the bright Florida sun returns, look for the action to pick right back up again.

If you have a fishing report of for charter information, please contact us at: Gulf Coast Guide Service, phone: 239-283-7960, Website: 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.



I am looking for:
News, Blogs & Events Web