On the Water: Usual summer weather pattern returns
Overall, the weather was great over the past week. Of course, it is summer, so it was hot as expected. However, the weather pattern returned to a light easterly wind ahead of the afternoon sea breeze. Mornings on the water were very comfortable in comparison to the past few weeks. Plus, afternoon thunderstorms helped to cool inshore water temperature a few degrees.
Boats trekking into gulf waters hooked into red grouper up to 29 inches that were caught over hard bottom in depths from 85 to 120 feet. Snapper, including mangrove, lane and vermilion, plus porgies and king mackerel were also boated.
Public or man-made wrecks and reefs in depths from 40 feet out past a hundred feet yielded hard-fighting species including amberjack, goliath grouper, barracuda, sharks and permit. Snapper, Spanish mackerel, cobia and false albacore were also hooked.
Spanish mackerel were reported but not in big numbers in and around the gulf passes and the south or gulf side of the Sanibel Causeway. Small silver spoons with a fast retrieve was the top method, while on the drift, live baiters hooked up while freelining live pilchards and herring. Ladyfish and bluefish were also caught from these areas to provide steady action.
With snook in their summer spawn pattern, the best action came from areas around the gulf passes. Several fish up to f40 inches were caught and released from Blind Pass north to Boca Grande Pass. Best baits included live pinfish, pigfish and large pilchards or thread herring. Good numbers of smaller male snook up to 26 inches were sighted along the surf of Sanibel, Captiva and Cayo Costa Islands. Small white and mylar jigs or flies, plus live pinfish, pigfish and pilchards were favored baits. Snook up to 34 inches were also caught and released near the mouth of the Caloosahatchee River.
The inshore mangrove snapper bite has remained consistent if not getting better. Fish up to 15 inches were caught in and around the gulf passes plus nearby mangrove shorelines and oyster bars. From land, anglers hooked snapper from Blind Pass, the Sanibel and Bokeelia fishing piers, and the Matlacha Drawbridge. Baits of choice include live shrimp, small pinfish or pilchards, dead or alive, and frozen sardines.
A few anglers found success while targeting catch-and-release redfish. Most are running in singles or pairs as fish up to 28 inches took live and cut bait under mangrove shorelines and points across the eastern and western walls of Pine Island Sound. On the lower stages of the tide, similar sized fish were found along drop-offs and troughs around sand bars and shorelines along the east and western side of Charlotte Harbor. Smaller redfish were reported in creeks at Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge and around St. James.
Season remains closed for snook, spotted sea trout and redfish in waters of Southwest Florida from the Hernando/Pasco county line south through Gordon Pass in Collier County. You can visit www.myfwc.com for all current regulations.
We are at that time of summer with the potential for nasty thunderstorms to appear daily and often rather quickly. It still amazes me how quick a small cloud can blow up into a massive thunderhead. If you are on the water, pay close attention to the sky and cloud formations. Keep an exit strategy so you have a path to your home port or dock without a storm in between. If the lightning starts popping nearby, if possible, get to a sheltered or protected area. Pulling up against a mangrove island is far safer than remaining over open water. While rain is just an inconvenience, lightning is deadly, please take it seriously.
If you have a fishing report or for charter information, 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.