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On the Water: Fishing the full moon tides

By Staff | May 13, 2020

Ron Smits of Bokeelia won the battle with this big tarpon. Ron caught and released the tarpon in Pine Island Sound while fishing last week’s full moon tides. PHOTO PROVIDED

A little cool front dropped down mid-week and brought some north and easterly wind with a slight drop in temperature and humidity. However, full moon tides moved a lot of water in and out and gave us some of the highest tides of the year.

Fishing around public wrecks and reefs yielded Spanish and king mackerel, sharks, plus a few cobia and permit. Mangrove snapper were hooked over the reefs and over ledges with chumming giving the best results.

The Spanish mackerel bite was often hot around the gulf passes, the Sanibel Causeway and off the Sanibel Lighthouse. Working silver spoons with a fast retrieve was the top method while on the drift with freelining live pilchards or shrimp also working well. Large ladyfish and sharks were often hooked as well.

Tarpon hook-ups were reported around Pine Island Sound, off the beaches from Sanibel to Gasparilla Island, and around the gulf passes. Full moon hill tides in Boca Grande Pass yielded good tarpon action with the crab flush during afternoon and evening hours. Sharks from 3 to 7 feet were hooked along with some big stingrays by tarpon anglers while cut or dead bait fishing.

With the full moon came some big afternoon high tides. Redfish up to 29 inches were hooked along shorelines in south Matlacha Pass near McCardle’s Island, off the eastern shore of Charlotte Harbor and keys in Pine Island Sound south of Pineland. On the lower stages of the tide, similar size fish were found along drop-offs and troughs around sand bars and shorelines along Charlotte Harbor and the western Sound. Redfish and snook were caught and released around Blind and Captiva Passes.

Beach fishing was consistent for catch-and-release snook on Sanibel, Captiva and Cayo Costa islands. Snook averaging in size from 20 to 26 inches were sight fished in extremely clear water in the surf just a few feet from shore. Live pilchards, shrimp, small light-colored lures and flies were top baits. At times, large bait schools were within casting distance of the beach. Casting into the bait often resulted in hook-ups with Spanish mackerel and jack crevalle.

Anglers found it difficult to fish many inshore and shallow water areas due to heavy concentrations of floating and suspended grass. This is normal. it happens every year as the water warms. Some areas are more effected than others and it generally is worst on a falling tide.

Season remains closed for snook, sea trout and redfish in waters of Southwest Florida from the Hernando/Pasco county line south through Gordon Pass in Collier County. With the closure, stocks appear to be rebounding nicely, and another year of catch-and-release can only help. You can visit www.myfwc.com for all current regulations.

For action, many of the deeper grassy bottom areas in depths from 5 to 8 feet gave a variety of fish including mackerel, bluefish, ladyfish, trout, small sharks and the possibility of a cobia. Noted areas included Hells Half Acre just east of Captiva Pass, between Useppa and Part Islands, and off the north shore of Bokeelia. Live shrimp, pilchards, and small shiny lures and spoons were top baits.

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.