On the Water: Summer fishing has arrived in Southwest Florida
Summer has officially arrived and with it comes the hot and humid days. Weekdays are relatively sparse of anglers with weekends getting most of the attention. Summer also brings us days with little to no wind, hot yes, but good for offshore runs.
It was another good week for offshore anglers — with the exception of a couple thunderstorms, weather was fair and sea conditions good. American red snapper was the target for many, and results were mixed. Most successful reports came from depths between 130 and 160 feet. To go with the reds, large mangrove and lanes, plus yellowtail snapper, were boxed. Porgy and grouper rounded out the bottom catch, plus a few blackfin tuna and dolphin (mahi-mahi) were hooked on the surface. A couple boats lucked into sighting whale sharks loafing under the water’s surface and boated cobia up to 30 pounds shadowing the sharks.
Despite good offshore reports, many captains advised they really had to work for their fish with a slow bite at times and had to deal with some extremely strong currents.
Afternoon and evening hill tides into the weekend flushed small crabs from Charlotte Harbor through Boca Grande Pass as anglers and tarpon waited in anticipation. Tarpon were also daisy chaining just off the beach north of Boca Grande Pass and off north Captiva Island. In Pine Island Sound, pods of fish were active during the morning hours between Captiva Pass and Cabbage Key, plus east of Fosters Point between Captiva and Redfish Passes.
Sharks of all sizes were hooked throughout the inshore waters, just off the beaches, and nearshore artificial reefs. Inshore, small blacktips were numerous n depths from 3 to 6 feet. Most are running 3 feet or less and are a blast on light tackle. They were hooked on live pinfish and pilchards, plus a variety of cut baits, either fished on bottom or under a bobber. Make sure to go with a wire leader if you want to keep them hooked up. From my experience, you do not need heavy wire, I generally use single strand of 60-pound or less depending on size of fish we are targeting.
Again, this week, the inshore mangrove snapper numbers appear to have improved from the previous week. Fish up to 14 inches were found around oyster bars and under mangrove overhangs on high water, plus in Captiva and Boca Grande Pass. In the passes, snapper were hooked on live shrimp, small pilchards and pinfish. Around the bars and shorelines, the live bait worked, but small cut pieces of bait often worked better.
Trout reports are encouraging, as good numbers and size were caught and released. A number of areas throughout Pine Island Sound and Charlotte Harbor gave up steady action on fish up to 21 inches. Average depth was 5 to 7 feet, and silver or sand trout, ladyfish, bluefish, Spanish mackerel and small sharks were often mixed in the bite.
Anglers targeting snapper around shorelines and oyster bars hooked into several redfish up to 30 inches. More were caught on cut bait than live bait. Redfish were also caught and released near Blind and Redfish Pass.
Snook, seatrout and redfish remain closed with catch-and-release only. Visit www.myfwc for all current fishing regulations.
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.