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On the Water: It was a beautiful week on the water

November 14, 2018
By Capt. Bill Russell , Pine Island Eagle

We could not have asked for a better week of weather, most days brought us bright sunny skies, mild temperature and little wind. Many anglers took advantage of it as this past Saturday there were more boats on the water than I have seen in a long time.

Offshore, grouper, snapper and bottom fishing in general continues strong if you make the run to 70-plus-foot depths. Limits of red grouper were recorded as well as big mangrove snapper, plus lanes and various other bottom dwellers. Most reports came from 70 to 110-foot depths.

Near shore, acres of Spanish mackerel were reported a short distance of the Sanibel beach near Knapp's Point over several days. Fish were crushing bait schools with lots of birds to give up their location. Sharks of various size and species were also in the mix. Tripletail were also caught near shore with most averaging below the legal size.

Article Photos

Ron Shotts and his fishing buddies hauled in an impressive catch of red grouper and snapper from Gulf waters. They were fishing out of Pine Island with Capt. Sean McQuade.


Mangrove snapper were caught bottom fishing the gulf passes; many are running undersize with some larger fish mixed in. Live shrimp was the best bait. A few sheepshead were also caught around the passes on small shrimp or cut shrimp.

Schooling ladyfish and small sharks were reported in south Pine Island Sound between Redfish Pass and Chino Island off the east side of the channel. Drifting 4 to 6-foot depths with a grassy bottom yielded action for young and old anglers looking for fun.

Similar action with ladyfish was also reported in north Matlacha Pass or southern Charlotte Harbor near marker 76.

Catch-and-release snook action was good on most days throughout the area including Pine Island Sound, Charlotte Harbor and Matlacha Pass. Above average water temperature has kept them active, aggressive and feeding. Fish up to 33 inches were caught on live and cut bait, plus artificials.

With the extreme low water, anglers fishing from shallow water skiffs, kayaks, canoes or on foot took advantage of the negative tides and fished were most anglers can't reach. Redfish to 30 inches were caught and released from deeper sand holes and depressions across the eastern side of Pine Island Sound and in southern Matlacha Pass. Snook and a few big trout were also hooked from these areas.

A good variety of fish including sea trout, bluefish, small sharks, jack crevalle and ladyfish were hooked in northern Pine Island Sound and in the Harbor off the west side of Bokeelia. The best bet was drifting areas with 4 to 7-foot depths with grass bottom or a mix of sand and grass. Live shrimp or small pilchards worked best.

We experienced extremely low tides; the weekend brought us exceptionally low water from mid-morning through early afternoon. This should of gave anglers or boaters in general a good chance to learn new areas as real estate was exposed that you rarely see. We will have plenty more days in the coming months with very low water,

This is my favorite time to explore and learn. If you are not very familiar with an area and your boat's draft, take it slow and work the beginning of the incoming tide. This way if you mess up and end up grounded (we all have) while taking it slow, the incoming water well have you floating again soon.

Learn where you can and cannot go during the low water of winter and the rest of the year is a breeze.

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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