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On the Water: Fishing is good when the weather allows

December 12, 2018
By Capt. Bill Russell , Pine Island Eagle

Over the week we experienced warm, cold and windy days. If you chose the right day on the water, the bite was on and fishing was good.

As many anticipated, the cooler weather brought on good sheepshead fishing. Sheepshead, with some reported up to 6 pounds, were hooked throughout the area. Docks and structure from the Sanibel Fishing Pier on up the coast well north of Boca Grande Pass inside the barrier islands held fish, as did many creeks and oyster bars. Fish were also caught from the Bokeelia Fishing Pier, Matlacha Pass and Blind Pass bridges. Fresh or live shrimp were the go-to baits, rigged with a small hook and just enough weight to keep it near the bottom.

Anglers targeting sheepshead are also hooking into good numbers of redfish. Many are smaller, running below 18 inches, but the numbers are encouraging. Along with the previous mentioned areas, oyster creeks in Matlacha Pass and "Ding" Darling on Sanibel also yielded redfish plus black drum. Larger redfish were hooked in sand holes in mid-Pine Island Sound and Bull Bay across Charlotte Harbor. Gold spoons, cut bait and live shrimp were the top baits.

Article Photos

Sheepshead love the cooler weather:  Nancy Pohl holds one of many she caught with her family while fishing near Captiva Island with Capt. Bill Russell on a chilly morning.


Snook fishing was very good ahead of the recent cool down, with good numbers found throughout Pine Island Sound, Matlacha Pass, Charlotte Harbor and into the Caloosahatchee River. They ran anywhere in size to "dinks" of about 12 inches to big girls pushing 40 inches. Live pilchards, pinfish, shrimp or hard and soft swim baits worked best. Snook and redfish are both closed for harvest, make sure and return them to the water quickly.

Fisherman hunting for sea trout are often striking out or doing very well. They do not appear to be wide spread as we are accustomed to, with many favorite grass flats striking out. Other areas are yielding good numbers and action. The better reports came from Matlacha Pass, south of the bridge, the eastern side of Pine Island Sound, and along the perimeter of Charlotte Harbor.

Ladyfish and jack crevalle were also caught while targeting trout. Live shrimp and shrimp imitations were the favored baits.

Last week gave us mornings with extreme low tides. Kayak anglers took advantage of the conditions and targeted snook, redfish and sea trout from trenches and sand holes. Most were fishing from Pineland, Matlacha Park, and "Ding" Darling Wildlife Refuge.

Much of the week was windy for the offshore boats with only a day or two of favorable weather. The better fishing continues to come from depths of 80 feet and deeper. Red grouper, an occasional gag, plus big snapper were boxed while either drifting or anchoring over hard bottom or ledges.

With cool fronts dropping down on a consistent basis, water temperatures are cooling down. This should bring on some of the better sheepshead fishing of the year, and the cooler water should help control red tide that has been lingering in nearshore gulf waters.

If you have a fishing report or for charter information, please contact us Gulf Coast Guide Service at 239-283-7960, via the Website or email gcl2fish@ live. com. Holiday gift certificates available

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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