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On the Water: Fall fishing begins in Southwest Florida

By Staff | Sep 25, 2019

Hard-fighting jack crevalle never disappoint. John Lewandowski and a couple of his fishing buddies tripled up on a school of jacks. They were caught and released while fishing with Capt. Bill Russell in Charlotte Harbor. PHOTO PROVIDED

As we exit summer and roll into the first week of fall, anglers should find good fishing for a variety of species inshore and in Gulf waters. Windy days dominated the past week, but we should see great weather heading into the change of seasons.

Sea trout, with a few over 20 inches were caught and released across various areas around Pine Island, including north Matlacha Pass, the perimeter of Charlotte Harbor, the northeast corner of Pine Island Sound and grass flats outside Sanibel’s Tarpon Bay. Larger fish were busting top-water lures including Zara Spooks and Mirrolures around oyster bars over the early morning high tides and caught later in the day in shallow channels and potholes using pinfish under a rattling cork. Redfish were also caught with the same baits from these locations.

Oversized snook were caught and released around Redfish and Captiva passes while drifting live bait on the falling tide. Snook were also reported at Blind Pass, while either drifting the channel or fishing docks. Live baiters hooked snook off the eastern and western walls of Charlotte Harbor and mid-Pine Island Sound. From shore, snook were hooked after dark from both the Matlacha Drawbridge and the Sanibel Pier while freelining live handpicked shrimp or pinfish or casting white buck tail jigs.

Large redfish were located along Charlotte Harbor’s eastern shore, northern Pine Island Sound and the Gulf passes. Many of the fish are averaging near 30 inches and were in schools from a dozen to a hundred or better. Smaller reds were hooked around oyster bars and potholes near Buck Key and south of Demere Key in Pine Island Sound. On the higher water, reds from 17 to 30 inches came from mangrove overhangs in south Matlacha Pass.

Redfish, snook and sea trout seasons remains closed with catch-and-release only. Visit for all current fishing regulations.

Schools of big, hard-fighting jack crevalle were common around Charlotte Harbor, Matlacha Pass and areas of Pine Island Sound. Look for surface commotion for their location — they commonly travel the same path along bars and shorelines as redfish schools this time of year. Make a long cast with a top-water lure or natural bait and hold on!

Sharks from 3 to 6 feet cooperated over the windy days while anchoring up along channels and troughs. Cut mullet and ladyfish were the baits of choice, with bulls, blacktip and lemon sharks hooked over the falling tide.

Anglers looking for dinner found mangrove snapper as the best option, with fish to 15 inches caught in Pine Island Sound and the Gulf passes. Small live baits, including pilchards, herring, pinfish and shrimp was the best choice while fishing sand holes, oyster bars, shorelines or around structure and ledges.

With the high winds, not many fishing reports came from offshore. As we know, we are getting into a great time of year to fish the Gulf waters. Snapper and grouper are moving closer to shore, plus cooler weather to the north will send migrating or pelagic species off our coast as the water cools.

We should start getting reports of tripletail and cobia hook-ups, plus many other species.

Fall is officially here, time for some of our best fishing and weather of the year. The next month or so gives us so much opportunity for not only good fishing, but just plain beautiful weather to be outdoors. Get out there and enjoy it!

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.