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On the Water: There’s plenty of action with snapper, sharks

By Staff | Aug 12, 2020

Snapper fishing is good around the Islands. Members of the Brook's Fishing Club from Bonita took home a mess of fresh filets. They were fishing inshore waters with Capt. Bill Russell PHOTO PROVIDED

As mentioned almost weekly over the past few months, mangrove snapper fishing is very good. Limits of tasty snappers were boxed offshore, in and around the gulf passes, and throughout the inshore waters.

Snapper from 11 to 15 inches were taken throughout the inshore waters, including south Matlacha Pass, Bokeelia’s Jug Creek and shorelines, sand holes and structure throughout Pine Island Sound.

From land, snapper were hooked from the Matlacha Drawbridge, the third bridge in Matlacha, Blind Pass at the south end of Sanibel, plus the Sanibel and Bokeelia fishing piers. With the recent rains, the water is tea colored in many areas, but often clear. With keen eyesight, it is best to rig with a light fluorocarbon leader to fool the bigger snapper.

I generally rig with 3 to 4 feet of 12 to 20-pound with a number 1 or 1/0 circle hook.

Offshore, snapper was found over structure, hard bottom and artificial reefs from 18-foot depths out past 90 feet. The deeper the water the larger the fish. Same rules apply offshore, with their keen eyesight, the lighter tackle hooks the biggest fish. Inshore and offshore, snapper respond great to chum, it’s a good way to get them balled up and feeding.

Keeper-size red grouper with a good many shorts released were found over hard bottom from 55 to 95-foot depths in gulf waters. Lane and yellowtail snapper, plus a few porgy and gag grouper, also came from these depths. For anglers looking for a fight, artificial reefs held barracuda, sharks and goliath grouper that are up to the challenge.

Back inshore, steady action with a variety of fish came from mid-Pine Island Sound off the eastern side of the intracoastal channel and in Charlotte Harbor near Bokeelia. The best bet was over a strong tide, anchoring over an area with a grass and sand bottom mix in 5 to 9-foot depths.

Live pilchards freelined or under a bobber were the top baits, with live shrimp, small pinfish and ladyfish strips also getting action. Fish reported included, catch-and-release spotted sea trout, grey or sand trout, Spanish mackerel, bluefish, jack crevalle, snapper, ladyfish (with some huge) and sharks.

Blacktip, spinner and sharp nose sharks are concentrated over these inshore areas. If you want to land one, a foot or two of wire leader is necessary to prevent cut-offs. Most are running 3 to 4 feet, if you do not overpower them with too heavy of tackle, they give an awesome and entertaining fight. A strip of fresh ladyfish or mullet, either freelined or under a bobber, should get their attention quick.

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.

For the heat of summer, our local waters are alive and teaming with bait and predator fish. Get on the water early, take advantage of good tides, bring plenty of drinking water and get off the water before afternoon thunderstorms. That’s the best way to enjoy a summer day on the water.

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 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.