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On the Water: Fishing in the area was good for some

August 22, 2018
By Capt. Bill Russell , Pine Island Eagle

While some areas around the islands are still suffering from water issues with red tide and algae blooms, other areas are the complete opposite, offering good fishing and plenty of positive signs.

Large schools of ladyfish were reported across Charlotte Harbor from Bokeelia across to the eastern shore and off Bull and Turtle bays. On calm mornings they could be sighted feeding on the surface with lots of terns and gulls dipping to the water and feeding pods of dolphin to give up their location. Several tarpon were sighted around the ladyfish, plus blacktip and spinner sharks. Spanish mackerel and jack crevalle were also in good numbers around Charlotte Harbor. Some of the better action was reported in 5 to 8-foot depths adjacent to the shallower sand bars.

Also, fishing cut bait around the same areas of the harbor resulted in hook-ups of bull and bonnet head sharks, plus some big stingrays. Fish seem to be concentrated in the areas were the shallower depths of the sand bars transition to deeper water. While fishing troughs or depressions in these areas, anglers hooked into some good sea trout up to 22 inches, pompano and a few permit.

Article Photos

While vacationing in Matlacha, Joey Critzer from Mt. Dora, Fla., had a fun morning on the water catching a variety of fish, including this big redfish that was safely released near Bokeelia while fishing with Capt. Bill Russell


Several anglers report catching redfish along shorelines in north Matlacha Pass and along the eastern shore of Charlotte Harbor. The morning high tide gave the best results while fishing cut mullet or live pinfish or pilchards. Mangrove snapper up to 14 inches were also found along shorelines and oyster bars. Also, just north of the Matlacha Bridge, a large school of jack crevalle were located feeding on the surface just west of the channel. Most fish were running 8 to 10 pounds and a blast to cast top-water lures at.

Many anglers are smartly leaving snook alone and not intentionally targeting them at the present time. With that said, a few anglers found good catch-and-release action up the eastern side of Charlotte Harbor and snook were also reported in Blind Pass at the south end of Sanibel. Mangrove snapper and small grouper were also caught around the gulf passes.

Offshore, fishing was decent in the same depths as the previous week. A variety of snapper is the best thing going with a mix of mangrove, lane, vermilion and some yellowtail coming from depths ranging from 50 out to about a hundred feet. A few big red grouper, plus margate or key west grunts were also boated.

Anglers that just wanted to tug on some strong fish found willing targets on reefs in 80 to 100 feet. Sharks, amberjack, barracuda,and goliath grouper were up to the challenge to give willing anglers sore arms and backs.

The days I was on the water this week it was very nice. The water looked good, often tannin stained but clear - that's normal for summer. But best of all, there was life everywhere. Bait was plentiful, fish were feeding, we caught a lot of different species, and I never seen a dead fish.

Plus, dolphin were abundant and playful, manatees were out and about carrying on in their usual way. After all the negative effects from the recent water issues and the depressed feeling it leaves, it was great to see there is plenty of life left and hopefully conditions continue to improve.

If you have a fishing report or for charter information, please contact us at 239-283-7960, via the Website or email

Have a safe week and good fishin'.

As a native of Pine Island, Capt. 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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