On the Water: Good weather and great fishing in area waters
One positive came from all the negative news over the week — recreational fishing is a necessity. With the amount of boats on the water it appeared as though anglers made the best of the situation and took advantage of some great weather.
Offshore, anglers found rod-bending action from just off the beaches, out to 40 miles, and areas between. This is the time with fish moving up the coast that you may hook into anything. Of course, Spanish mackerel are very abundant from a short distance off the beach out to deeper waters. We just finished frying up some fresh mackerel for dinner and it was excellent. Spanish mackerel are very underrated as table fare. If you ice then down immediately after catching them and cook them up fresh, within a day or two, they are great.
Along with the Spanish, king mackerel or king fish were hooked just outside Boca and Captiva passes, off Sanibel’s Knapp’s Point and in gulf waters over artificial reefs. Both were often hooked while fishing near bait pods.
Bonito and a few blackfin tuna over 20 pounds were also caught around bait pods. Hard fighting jack crevalle, permit and cobia were reported on structure in depths from 40 to 70 feet.
Bottom fishing for grouper and snapper was best over hard bottom in depths from 70 to 110 feet. Man-made reefs at these depths was the place for a tug-a-war with big goliath grouper, amberjack and sharks.
Back to nearshore, tarpon were sighted and jumped off the beach of Sanibel between the lighthouse and Knapp’s Point in 15 to 20-foot depths. A variety of sharks including a few big hammerheads were also hooked.
Inshore, when the tide was moving, fishing was good. Catch-and-release seatrout fishing was steady across the inshore grass flats with hot spots including Charlotte Harbor around Bull Bay and west of Bokeelia, in Pine Island Sound between Cabbage Key and Captiva Pass, and to the east of Buck Key. Also, between St. James City and Tarpon Bay near marker 13. Anglers also hooked into mackerel, bluefish, ladyfish and sharks from these areas.
Snook and redfish were reported from the eastern side of Charlotte Harbor, south Matlacha Pass, along shorelines near the mouth of the Caloosahatchee River and throughout islands and keys in the Sound. At times and in certain areas, floating or suspended grass made it difficult to fish and keep a clean bait.
Season remains closed for snook, seatrout and redfish in waters of South-west Florida from the Hernando/ Pasco county line south through Gordon Pass in Collier County. With the closure, stocks are rebounding nicely, and another year of catch-and-release can only help. You can visit www.myfwc.com for all current regulations.
Tarpon hook-ups are on the rise with reports from Charlotte Harbor, mid-Pine Island Sound and areas between the powerlines and the C span of the Sanibel Causeway. As the warming trend continues, look for sightings and hook-ups to increase daily.
As we continue to navigate our way through this COVID-19 mess, it’s a good idea, if you have the means, to get on the water and fish a few hours to keep your sanity. Be smart and fish alone or only with those in your household. We cancelled all charters for April to protect our clients, their family and ours.
If we all do the right thing, we can get past this sooner than later and get our lives back to somewhat normal.
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.
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.