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On the Water: Full moon brings strong tides and boosts fishing

By Staff | Apr 15, 2020

Spanish mackerel are fun to catch and great on the table. Laurie Russell of Matlacha enjoyed an afternoon fishing with her father, Mitch Taylor, for his birthday, and guess what they brought home for dinner. They were fishing in Charlotte Harbor near Bokeelia. PHOTO PROVIDED

A big full moon gave us strong tides over the Easter week and coupled with a breezy holiday weekend, brought us extra high water.

Reports of consistent action with Spanish mackerel came from areas around the B and C spans of the Sanibel Causeway, plus both Redfish and Captiva passes. The best bite was over the incoming tide while casting or trolling silver spoons and mylar jigs or freelining live pilchards or shrimp. Ladyfish and bluefish were also caught with the mackerel.

The snook bite was consistent throughout the inshore waters. Fish up to 34 inches were caught and released around Pine Island Sound, Matlacha Pass and Charlotte Harbor. As with the mackerel, the best action often came over the incoming tide, especially on the days with a southwesterly breeze. Baits of choice included live pilchards, thread herring, pinfish and a variety of lures.

Seatrout averaging 13 to 17 inches were hooked over grassy bottom off the west side of Bokeelia, between Cabbage Key and Captiva Pass, and in north Matlacha Pass. Trout were also caught along the beach at Cayo Costa State Park along with snook.

Live bait fish, shrimp, Zoom jerk baits and Mirrolure Mirrodines were top baits. A few larger trout were caught and released while targeting snook along shorelines and oyster bars.

Redfish up to 30 inches were hooked under mangrove overhangs during high water around islands on the eastern side of Pine Island Sound and in Matlacha Pass south of the powerlines. Reds were also caught with snook around oyster bars and sand depressions along the eastern and western walls of Charlotte Harbor. Jack crevalle up to 10 pounds was another by-catch for many anglers.

Snook, seatrout and redfish remains closed with catch-and-release only. Visit www.myfwc for all current fishing regulations.

For hard pulling action, sharks often cooperated on most days along with big stingrays. Best areas included sandy bottom in 5 to 10-foot depths adjacent to grass flats and shallower areas in Pine Island Sound. Most sharks reported were hooked on cut ladyfish, mullet and jack crevalle, plus a few bonnet heads that went for live shrimp. Sharks up to 8 feet were also reported offshore around reefs and bait schools.

As our water temperature continues to rise, so does tarpon hook-ups. Tarpon were put in the air across Charlotte Harbor, in Pine Island Sound near north Captiva, and to the south, between St. James City and the Sanibel Causeway. Both live and dead bait worked. Live baits included thread herring, pinfish and small crabs. Mullet, ladyfish, menhaden and catfish tails were the dead or cut baits of choice.

I’m not sure what this week brings on the water, but hopefully a little less wind. Our water looks good, bait schools are plentiful inshore and off the beaches, as well as a variety of game fish, including tarpon. I believe it’s good for those that have the opportunity to turn off the news and spend some time on the water, under the proper social distancing recommendations.

For me, once I’m on the water, nature brings out the good and reminds me that we well get past this. Mother Nature has a great way of recharging the soul.

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.

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.