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On the Water: Fishing conditions are up and down

September 19, 2018
By Capt. Bill Russell , Pine Island Eagle

Fishing reports were good and improving over most inshore waters over the past week, then a change came for several areas over the weekend. Fish kills were noted a few miles off the beaches then by Saturday dead fish were floating along the coastline in areas including Blind Pass and Boca Grande.

Most believe the recent easterly winds were holding the toxins offshore then a change in direction with an onshore breeze resulted in the most recent outbreak. Not sure of the extent as reports were just coming in as this column was written.

During the week anglers noted the water looked good along the eastern side of Pine Island Sound and fishing was decent as well. Schools of large redfish were located off shorelines and sand holes in the northern Sound, with many fish running over 30 inches. Also during the week, snook and redfish were caught and released near the Gulf passes and along the beaches, plus mangrove snapper were caught in the passes over the slower or slack tides.

Article Photos

While visiting their grandfather Shakil Mohammed on Sanibel Island, Sachi and Samuel Kim from Seattle, Washington, had a fun morning of fishing. The siblings kept busy catching mangrove snapper and sea trout in Charlotte Harbor while fishing with Capt. Bill Russell.


Up to this point, Matlacha has remained unaffected from the water issues and fishing reports were decent north and south of the bridge in Matlacha Pass. Redfish up to 28 inches were caught and released in south Matlacha Pass near Master's Landing while soaking cut ladyfish along shorelines. A couple snook were also caught and released. Sea trout were hooked while drifting shrimp under popping corks over 3 to 5-foot-deep flats off the east side of McCardle Island. Mangrove snapper to 12 inches took live shrimp around oyster bars and island points in the pass.

At the north end of the pass, redfish were reported in bays in the northwest area, trout numbers were good with fish up to 20 inches, plus mangrove snapper, a few flounder, Spanish mackerel and cobia.

Bokeelia and Charlotte Harbor also held good fishing all week. A variety of fish continue to come from the Bokeelia Fishing Pier, including mangrove snapper, black drum, pompano, Spanish mackerel, sharks, plus catch-and-release snook. A few redfish and snook were caught and released in areas between Bokeelia and Pineland along shorelines, and trout were hooked in the same area on low tide while fishing sand potholes. Across Charlotte Harbor, Spanish mackerel and ladyfish were schooled up feeding on small baitfish. Terns and gulls working an area was the best bet to find the hungry fish. A few tarpon were also sighted around the schools and one angler reported running across a school of big black drum finning at the surface on a calm morning in the middle of the Harbor.

Offshore, anglers are running out 15+ miles to find good water. In depths from 80 to 120 feet there were a couple reports of a mix of red grouper, snapper, porgy and grunts. Most fish were caught on cut bait.

As mentioned, not sure to the extent of the recent fish kills over the weekend, if it's widespread or isolated. I really try to keep this article positive and write about catching fish, it gets difficult with the ongoing water crisis continuing to kill sea life. It's important that everyone keeps involved, demand action from local, state and federal government, and vote in November for those who have clean water as a priority.

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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