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On the Water: It was another windy week out on the water

By Staff | Jan 15, 2020

Strong winds hampered fishing efforts over the past week making offshore trips nearly impossible. With a full moon to go and strong east winds, we witnessed some of our lowest tides of the year in Southwest Florida. Although conditions were tough, fish were caught around the inshore waters.

Shallow draft boats fared well by avoiding the winds and seeking shelter of creeks, canals and small bays. A variety of fish, including sheepshead, redfish, black drum, mangrove snapper, ladyfish and snook, were hooked while tossing shrimp and shrimp imitation baits around docks, oyster bottom and drop-offs. A couple of areas worth noting included Sanibel’s Tarpon Bay and “Ding” Darling, plus canals around St. James City and Sanibel.

A few pompano and permit were reported in Pine Island Sound near Cabbage Key and Matlacha Pass south of the drawbridge. They were hooked on shrimp under a rattling cork or pompano-style jigs.

There were several reports of good seatrout action in Pine Island Sound with fish up to 20 inches caught and released while fishing 4 to 6-foot grass flats or sand holes and trenches. The best bite was over the incoming tide while casting a host of small lures or live shrimp suspended under a cork. Spanish mackerel were caught in the Sound from the fish shacks south to the power lines.

Success came while watching birds working an area of water then drift fishing while casting small silver spoons and jerk baits. Sharks up to 4 feet were also noted.

Further south on the bayside of the spoil islands connecting the Sanibel Causeway, anglers hooked into a variety including Spanish mackerel, bluefish, ladyfish, seatrout and lots of lizard fish. Most of the fish were hooked in 4 to 6-foot depths.

The sheepshead bite was good early in the week then slowly faded with the warming water. As most know, sheepshead thrive in the cold. When the water temperature drops and turns other fish off, the sheepshead bite is usually at its best. Fish were caught around oyster bars in Matlacha Pass south of the power lines and in creeks near the mouth of the Caloosahatchee River. They were also hooked from docks and other structure from Shell Creek and Punta Rassa up the coast from Sanibel up to the Placida railroad trestle. Many of the areas also held redfish, black drum and snook.

I hope by the time we read this the wind has finally subsided giving anglers more fishing options. Offshore fishing was good before the winds and should pick right back up once the seas settle down. Inshore, less wind allows boats to range further and cover more areas and not having as many anglers fishing the same sheltered areas.

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.