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On the Water: It was another good week of fishing

By Capt. Bill Russell - | Oct 21, 2020

Robb Dillinger and crew with a great catch of snapper and grouper. They were fishing west of Captiva Pass with Capt. Sean McQuade. PHOTO PROVIDED

Much of the week brought perfect fishing conditions with blue skies, lite winds and lower humidity. Winds ramped up over the weekend regulating anglers to fishing inshore and just off the beaches.  

Despite a few windy days and bumpy conditions, anglers fishing offshore scored with grouper, snapper, king and Spanish mackerel. Grouper and snapper came from depths between 60 and 85 feet. Best baits were sardines, thread herring or squid fished on a knocker rig or heavy jig, plus live pinfish and sand perch. Closer to shore over artificial reefs in less than 50 feet, mangrove snapper up to 15 inches were boxed along with Bonito, Spanish mackerel and a few king mackerel.  

Mangrove snapper up to 16 inches were caught in and around the gulf passes with a good number running 10 to 12 inches. Live shrimp, pilchards and small pinfish are the baits of choice while fishing the slower stages of the tide.  

  Anglers report good days of pompano catching from the Sanibel Causeway north to Boca Grande. Consistent action came while casting shrimp-tipped jigs and pompano style jigs in pink, yellow and chartreuse.  

Grass flats in 4 to 7-foot depths throughout Pine Island Sound and the south end of Charlotte Harbor near Bokeelia yielded catch-and-release action with sea trout, plus bluefish, Spanish mackerel, ladyfish, jack crevalle, pompano and sharks, including large spinner sharks. As always, this time of year, watch for birds and surface feeding activity, plus bait schools. 

Redfish, with a few reported pushing 40 inches, were hooked around oyster bars and shorelines around the mouth of the Caloosahatchee River, south Matlacha Pass, areas around Blind and Redfish passes, the east side of Cayo Costa State Park and the southern and eastern shores of Charlotte Harbor.  

Snook up to 30 inches were hooked at first light on top-water lures around northern Matlacha Pass, the east side of Pine Island Sound and Bokeelia’s Jug Creek. Live bait anglers targeted snook around Blind, Redfish and Captiva passes and over incoming tide in Pelican Bay and outside Bull and Turtle bays.  

Spanish mackerel from 12 to 24 inches are abundant along the gulf beaches, in the gulf passes and throughout the inshore waters. As previously mentioned, look for bird and feeding activity to locate hungry fish. A small shiny lure, spoon or jig with a fast retrieve won’t go unnoticed if you’re in the right place. Surf fishermen on the beaches of Sanibel and Captiva hooked into Spanish mackerel, pompano, snook, ladyfish, jack crevalle and bonnethead sharks.  

Early morning was the best time to jump a tarpon as schooling fish were located just of the beach of Captiva Island and in Charlotte Harbor near Punta Gorda. Fish up to 120 pounds were hooked on pinfish, thread herring, pilchards, ladyfish and DOA Bait Busters. 

With the closure on snook, sea trout, and redfish, if you catch them, it’s imperative to do the right things for a healthy release. Keep them in the water if possible, if you must get a picture make it quick, remove the hook, handle them as little as possible and return them to water. If it’s a lengthy battle you may need to spend a little time reviving them to make sure they safely swim away. And maybe the most important, please do not feed them to the dolphins. Bottle-nose dolphin are extremely intelligent, very adaptive and know how to associate anglers with an easy meal. It’s no match for a tired, released fish to have a chance if hungry dolphin are around.

Give the fish a fighting chance, if you are on a good bite and dolphin are eating what you release, either stop fishing for a few minutes and see if the dolphin leaves or just move on yourself.  

Go to www.myfwc.com for all up to date 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.