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On the Water: Anglers enjoy a great week out on the water

By Staff | Dec 11, 2019

Canadian Bonnie Nixon enjoying a beautiful day and good fishing with one of several permit she boated. Bonnie and her son, David, also taking a break from the cold of Canada were fishing wit Capt. Bill Russell. PHOTO?PROVIDED

It was a great week on the water in Southwest Florida — the weather was beautiful, and fishing was good. Days of sunshine and little to no wind made for comfortable fishing days offshore in gulf waters. Inshore, there were no reports of red tide and water quality looked much improved over previous weeks.

With cooler weather the sheepshead bite continues to improve inshore and over nearshore reefs. They were targeted along shorelines and pilings around Punt Rassa and Sanibel Islands Tarpon Bay. Sheepshead with a few black drum mixed in were reported around the gulf passes, including Blind, Redfish, Captiva and Boca Grande. From shore, sheepshead with a mix of other species were landed from the Matlacha Drawbridge plus the Bokeelia and Sanibel fishing piers.

Anglers fishing live shrimp and shrimp-tipped jigs hooked into a few good pompano outside the Sanibel Causeway and around Cayo Costa State Park, and a few permit were noted as well along with plenty of ladyfish.

Redfish were caught and released in good numbers near the gulf passes, often while targeting sheepshead. Redfish up to 30 inches were hooked in Pine Island Sound on the flats south of Pineland and in southern Matlacha Pass. A few days, reds were reported from the Bokeelia fishing pier as well.

With a drop in water temperature, the snook bite was down but picked back up with the warmer weather heading into the weekend.

Linesiders up to 33 inches were caught and released in Pine Island Sound and southern Matlacha Pass near the mouth of the river. Good snook fishing was also noted in the Caloosahatchee River and around St. James City.

Sharks were in good numbers both inshore on the flats and offshore on the reefs. Bonnet head, blacktip and bulls up to 4 feet were hooked on cut bait and shrimp in Matlacha Pass and the eastern side of Pine Island Sound. Over man-made reefs in 30 to 50 feet of water, several anglers found a large number of sharks, often making it difficult to get a hooked fish to the boat.

Red grouper, plus lane and mangrove snapper were found over hard bottom in depths from 85 to 100 feet. Smaller, mostly all undersize grouper were common in shallower depths. Schools of Spanish mackerel with king mackerel in the mix were in depths from 45 to 80 feet.

From the reports I received, inshore and offshore, plus the areas I fished over the week, the water is much improved. It looks like the recent red tide outbreaks may be behind us.

Areas I earlier ran across with dead fish and ugly water looked great this past week good looking water and no floaters. The weather really has been great, get out there and enjoy it!

If you have a fishing report or for charter information, please contact Gulf Coast Guide Service at 239-410-8576 (call or text); on the web at www.fishpineisland.com; or via email at gcl2fish@live.com. Holiday gift certificates are available.

Have a safe week and good fishin’.

As a lifetime resident of Matlacha and Pine Island, Capt. Bill Russell has spent his life fishing and learning the waters around Pine Island and southwest Florida, and as a professional fishing guide for the past 23 years.