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On the Water: An up and down week on the water

By Staff | Feb 13, 2019

Look for the snook bite to heat up as inshore waters warm. Linda Heinle of Captiva Island caught and released this snook along with redfish and big sheepshead while fishing near her Island with Capt. Jason Ramer. PHOTO PROVIDED

Other than a couple foggy mornings and afternoons, the weather was decent all week. Up to the weekend light winds allowed boats big and small to venture offshore into Gulf waters. As far as fishing, the bite was up and down, and changed from day to day.

The sea trout bite wasn’t great, in fact many anglers targeting trout were skunked while fishing areas around Pine Island that have produced well in the past. Yet, others report catching or spotting more fish each day. The time we spent targeting trout early in the week, the bite wasn’t great, however we sighted good numbers of fish large and small. Best baits for trout were live shrimp or Gulp shrimp under a popping cork and a variety of soft plastic lures. Several anglers ran across aggressive bonnethead sharks while targeting trout on the grass flats. I expect the trout numbers to continue to improve as the water warms and bait fish move in.

With water climbing above 70 degrees, snook are slowly becoming more aggressive, especially the smaller ones. Fish were caught and released a-round canal mouths in Matlacha and Bokeelia, along shorelines on the east side of Cayo Costa and Captiva Islands, and at night from the Matlacha Drawbridge. Jack crevalle were also caught from these areas. Snook weren’t reported in great numbers, but like trout, the bite will improve as the water continues to warm.

A few redfish from 22 to 26 inches were caught and released in Pine Island Sound north of Demere Key and around Patricio Island. Smaller redfish ranging in size from 12 to 20 inches were caught in creeks, along shorelines,and under docks in south Matlacha Pass, Bokeelia, and the barrier islands. Reds were caught on cut mullet and ladyfish, shrimp rigged various ways and weedless gold spoons. All redfish and snook are out of season and must be released safely to fight another day.

The sheepshead bite was up and down all week. When the bite was good, it was really good, with plenty of larger fish caught. All the Gulf passes, including Blind, Redfish, Captiva and Boca Grande, were targeted areas as well as docks, piers and shorelines around the islands. Sheepshead were also caught around oyster bars and creeks in south Matlacha Pass. The best bite came with moving water on small or cut shrimp fished on a light jig head, knocker rig or split-shot. A few black drum, redfish and mangrove snapper were also caught.

Sheepshead were also found offshore with the better bite north of Blind Pass. Fish to 6 pounds were caught over artificial reefs, hard bottom and ledges in depths from 25 to 40 feet.

Speaking of offshore, targeting depths from 90 to 130 feet resulted in limits of red grouper up to 11 pounds. Mangrove, yellowtail, lane and vermilion snapper, plus a few porgies and big grunts, were also caught from these depths. Rod-bending big boys, including goliath grouper, sharks and amberjack, were boated and released from wrecks beginning around 8 feet. One tiger shark around 7 feet was also sighted cruising under the surface.

The water temperature is slowly climbing – inshore quicker than offshore. If this continues it will not be long before bait schools arrive, migratory game fish begin moving up our coast, and fishing is more consistent. The sooner the better!

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

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.