On the Water: Favorable conditions for fishing offshore and inshore
Favorable weather for the better part of the week allowed anglers to venture to their favorite fishing grounds from offshore to inshore.
With American red snapper season open and great weather, anglers made the long trek into gulf waters. Results were mixed — many reported a slow bite although a good show of fish on the bottom. Those that worked at it filled the cooler with limits of good size red snapper. Grouper, African pompano and schoolie size dolphin (mahi-mahi) were also caught at depths from 125 to 170 feet.
A few boats boxed good gag grouper and red grouper targeting depths from 70 to 100 feet. Most found a slow snapper bite with a few big mangrove and lanes reported. Cobia up to 25 pounds were caught over artificial reefs along with all the barracuda and big sharks you want to tangle with.
Tarpon reports over the week came from Boca Grande Pass, off the beach from Boca Grande Pass to Venice, and between Captiva Pass and the intracoastal waterway. Small crabs, pinfish, thread herring and squirrel fish or sand perch were preferred baits.
Anglers looking for fun with catch-and-release snook fishing had a good showing over the week. Fish up to 38 inches were hooked along the beaches, snags and structure around the barrier islands. This includes from Sanibel north to Gasparilla. Shore-bound anglers were not left out as Blind Pass, Bowman’s Beach and the Sanibel Pier held good numbers of fish. Redfish, with some over 30 inches, were also caught and released from many of these areas.
Spanish mackerel were caught by both boat and shore-bound anglers between the Sanibel Fishing Pier and Lighthouse Point. Beach anglers also caught whiting and a few pompano.
Sharks are roaming most inshore waters. Most are small from 2-3 feet with a few larger ones as well. Many are blacktips — these guys are a blast on light tackle. They are aggressive, fast and often put on a great aerial show. Prepared properly, the small ones are also very good on the table. If you are thinking about keeping a shark for the table, make sure you can properly identify the species. Many species are catch-and-release only and all have tight regulations. You can download the Fish Rules app on your phone or look them up at www.myfwc.com.
Seatrout numbers were good in mid-Pine Island Sound and Charlotte Harbor near Bokeelia. Often the trout were mixed with ladyfish, bluefish and a few Spanish mackerel. If you were fishing a good area, you generally got a strike pretty quick, if nothing in a few minutes, relocate a short distance and try again. Drift fishing is a good option then you can anchor up when you find the bite. These hot areas were also the better locations for the sharks previously mentioned.
Seatrout, snook and redfish are catch-and-release only. Go to www.myfwc.com for all current fishing regulations.
With anglers concentrating on tarpon or taking advantage of good weather and open seasons and heading offshore, the inshore crowd is sparse. It’s a great time to fish your favorite inshore spots without a lot of competition. Thunderstorm season is hear, pay attention, and beat the storms back to the dock.
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 email@example.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.