On the Water: A week of extreme low tides on the water
Well, that was an interesting week on the waters of Southwest Florida. To say we had some windy days would be an understatement as strong winds and even higher gusts kept many anglers off the water. It was all centered around a cold front that triggered the wind, dumped some rain, then coupled with a full moon pushed our tides about as low as you will see.
If you were on the water, you no doubt noticed exposed real estate or areas that very seldom rise from the water. With the strong easterly wind and a big moon, the water never really came up much. It went from a super low to a very low tide. If you like to explore and learn new areas, this is a great time to do it. You will find oyster bars you never knew existed.
Early last week just ahead of the winds, the offshore report was good. Limits of red grouper were brought up from 75 to 100-foot depths along with big mangrove and lane snapper. Sheepshead and mangrove snapper were taken over hard bottom including reefs and ledges on depths from 30 to 45 feet. A good number of Spanish mackerel were caught along with a few king mackerel over the nearshore reefs. Give the seas a couple days to settle down once the wind stops and the offshore bite should resume.
Inshore, with the lack of water many anglers found it difficult or impossible to navigate to their favorite fishing holes. Many chose to fish around structure such as docks and piers or deeper troughs between islands. After the cool front passed the sheepshead bite was consistent. Not great, but consistent. Most were caught on the bay side of the barrier islands while fishing docks, piers, rock piles and deeper oyster-laden creeks. Redfish, mangrove snapper and a few snook also were caught around these areas.
Redfish up to 28 inches were caught along the shallows while fishing adjacent pockets and troughs with slightly deeper water. Cut bait including ladyfish chunks and large shrimp got the most attention, while freelined live shrimp and gold spoons accounted for a few as well. Reports came from Matlacha Pass south of the powerline, Pine Island Sound between Demere Key and Pineland, plus the Sound side of north Captiva Island.
Anglers fishing live shrimp under bobbers or popping corks or slow casting soft plastics found decent action with sea trout in north Matlacha Pass, Charlotte Harbor near Bokeelia, and throughout Pine Island Sound. Most were caught in depths from 3 to 6 feet in areas with sand holes, troughs along bars and deeper grass bottom. Spanish mackerel, ladyfish, jack crevalle and a few pompano were caught as well.
Snook, redfish and sea trout are closed season with catch and release only. You can go to www.myfwc.com for all the current fishing regulations.
Let’s hope this week plays out better. We caught fish last week, but the conditions were tough. If the forecast holds true, warm days and a drop in wind should give us more options inshore and offshore.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.