On the Water: It was a good week for offshore anglers
The best fishing came from offshore over the past week, as inshore waters were hot and many areas experienced issues with water quality.
Fishing offshore, with exception of the heat, you could not have asked for better weather. Blue skies, flat calm seas and very few storms made for ideal conditions. Red snapper were found in depths from 135 to 160 feet. Red grouper, mangrove and lane snapper were also boxed from these depths and shallower depths under a hundred feet. Several boats also came across schooling dolphin (mahi-mahi), blackfin tuna and a few king mackerel.
Artificial reefs within 10 miles of shore held plenty of sharks, barracuda and goliath grouper for anglers just looking for a hard fight and good time. Permit were reported over many of the reefs as well, along with Spanish mackerel, snapper and a few catch-and-release snook.
Catch-and-release snook fishing was consistent up and down the beaches with fish released from 20 to 36 inches. Whiting and pompano were hooked as well over the incoming tide. Fishing near structure and docks in and around all the gulf passes, plus Sanibel’s Tarpon Bay, yielded hook-ups with snook and redfish.
Mangrove snapper up to 13 inches were found around the gulf passes as well as the Sanibel Bridge and areas around Bokeelia’s Jug Creek. Most were caught on shrimp, small pinfish and pilchards.
Snapper were also reported in creek mouths near St. James and Sanibel Islands “Ding” Darling Wildlife Reserve.
Many anglers and residents report terrible water quality in Matlacha Pass from the bridge south and often pushing into northern Matlacha Pass. Most found while navigating through these areas all bait in live wells died in short order. Of course, as one would expect, fishing was terrible and dead fish were noted in the areas of bad water. A few anglers also mentioned concerns with water quality around Pineland and other areas of Pine Island Sound.
At the north end of Matlacha Pass where it meets with Charlotte Har-bor, big Spanish mackerel and sharks were hooked while fishing around large bait pods. The bait fish were located by watching for dimpling or rain on the surface or diving pelicans
Areas in mid and northern Pine Island Sound held a variety of fish including sea trout, ladyfish, jack crevalle, mackerel, bluefish, sharks and, of course, catfish. The key to good fishing was to find areas with good water. Avoid the milky or colored water and fish depths from 5 to 8 feet with decent clarity. If the sun is out, you should be able to differentiate the type of bottom from sand to grass with polarized sunglasses. Dark is generally grass and lighter color is sand, fish the transition or breaks of color change for the best results.
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.