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On the Water: Enjoying warm weather and good fishing

By Capt. Bill Russell - | Oct 14, 2020

Regina Reed of Fort Myers caught this big pompano on her first-time fishing from a boat. She was fishing near Bokeelia with Capt. Bill Russell. PHOTO PROVIDED

Warm weather continued over the week making for summer like fishing conditions. Anglers fishing the inshore waters enjoyed a good week for a variety of fish.

Redfish numbers were good over the week with fish averaging in size from 20-31 inches. Fishing the morning high water through the falling tide, anglers worked overhangs along shorelines, around oyster bars and docks near the gulf passes. Baits included live shrimp, pilchards and pinfish, fresh cut pinfish and ladyfish, plus Gulp shrimp, gold spoons and suspended twitch baits. A few areas noted included Fisherman’s Key and nearby islands between Punta Rassa and St. James City, shorelines and oyster bars from the “Ding” Darling Wildlife Refuge north to Buck Key, and from the Smokehouse Bay area of north Matlacha Pass to Bokeelia’s Jug Creek.

Snook were caught and released in many of the same areas as redfish as well as the eastern wall of Charlotte Harbor from Burnt Store Marina to Pirates Harbor, islands and keys from Galt Island north to Panther Key and Burgess Bay near Bokeelia. Snook were also caught and released near the Blind Pass Bridge, and over the falling tide around Captiva and Redfish passes. From shore, snook were hooked from the Sanibel Fishing Pier and the Matlacha Drawbridge.

Anglers again this week reported good catches of pompano. Schooling fish were caught just off the beach of Sanibel near Lighthouse Point, sand drop-offs inside Redfish and Captiva passes, and off sand bars near Bokeelia and the Burnt Store Bar in Charlotte Harbor. Pompano were caught on live shrimp under a float, plus quarter and half ounce pompano jigs in chartreuse or pink.

Spanish mackerel were caught in north Matlacha Pass near marker 76, in Charlotte Harbor around Oyster Shoals and the Bokeelia Bar, and in Pine Island Sound between the channel and Captiva Pass. Mackerel were reported in 5 to 8-foot depths on the gulf side of the Sanibel Causeway Islands and from the Sanibel Fishing Pier. Shore-bound anglers also hooked macks from the Bokeelia Fishing Pier and Matlacha Drawbridge. At times, the macks were located by watching for birds and surface feeding activity. Jack crevalle, bluefish, ladyfish, sea trout and sharks were often caught with the mackerel. Silver spoons, small jerk baits, small mylar jigs, live pilchards and shrimp were top baits.

Mangrove snapper inshore continue to thin out, but with some effort anglers manage to catch fish up to 13 inches. They were targeted in all sorts of areas including sand holes, mangrove shorelines and points, oyster bars, underwater structure, docks and piers, plus hard bottom in the passes. Best baits included shrimp, pilchards (live and cut), small pinfish, plus small jigs tipped with shrimp. If you can time the slack tide around the gulf passes, this may be your best bet for a bucket of keepers.

Offshore, Hurricane Delta churned up the Gulf of Mexico and although stayed far from us, boats attempting to head offshore found good size swells over the week.

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.

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.fish pineisland.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.