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On the Water: Sheepshead fishing picks up with cooler weather upon us

By Capt. Bill Russell - | Dec 16, 2020

Photo provided Hard-fighting sharks are roaming in the inshore and offshore waters. Tanner Peer caught and released this big blacktip shark in 30 feet of water west of Captiva Pass fishing with Captain Bill Russell.

The week started out cold and windy then quickly rebounded to perfect fishing weather. Leading into the weekend, light to no wind days made for comfortable fishing offshore in gulf waters as well as inshore. 

Sheepshead numbers are on the rise with the cooler water temperatures as reports came from inshore and gulf waters over nearshore reefs. They were located along shorelines, pilings, and structure from Sanibel’s Tarpon Bay, up to Boca Grande Pass, including areas around Blind, Redfish, and Captiva Passes. From shore, sheepshead with a mix of other species were landed from the Matlacha Draw Bridge plus the Bokeelia and Sanibel Fishing Piers, Blind Pass.

Offshore, sheepsheads were boated in depths from 20 to 40 feet over artificial reefs, ledges, and hard bottom. Mangrove and lane snapper, plus grunts were mixed with the sheepsheads, also one hog fish was reported.  

Redfish were caught and released in Pine Island Sound around the gulf islands and near the gulf passes. Redfish up to 26 inches were caught and released in Bokeelia’s Jug Creek and Burgess Bay with several reported from the Bokeelia Fishing Pier as well.  

With a drop in water temperature the snook bite was slow early in the week but picked back up with the warmer weather heading into the weekend. Linesiders up to thirty-one inches were caught and released around St. James, Blind Pass, Roosevelt Channel, and Redfish Pass. Snook hook-ups were reported over the falling tide around Charlotte Harbor near Bokeelia and Jug Creek. 

Kayak anglers report good times with a steady bite of mixed species around Bokeelia. Fish hooked included, snook, redfish, sea trout, ladyfish, snapper, sheepshead, jack crevalle, bluefish, puffer fish, lizard fish, and of course, catfish.  

Sharks are in good numbers inshore near the passes and offshore around the reefs. Bonnet head, blacktip, and bulls up to five feet were hooked on cut bait and shrimp on the western side of Charlotte Harbor and Pine Island Sound.  Sharks up to seven feet were hooked over artificial reefs in 25-to-50-foot depths.  Spanish and king mackerel, bonito, bluefish, blue runners, and jack crevalle were hooked over the reefs as well.  

Red grouper, with lane and mangrove snapper were found over hard bottom in depths from 65 to 90 feet. Anglers report cobia, sharks, goliath grouper, and barracuda on artificial reefs at the same depths. A few gag grouper up to 31 inches were hooked on depths from 38 to 60 feet either trolling diving lures or dropping hand-size live pinfish. 

A cold front with a few windy days is generally followed by several days of great weather. Get your chores around the house completed during those windy days then get on the water and enjoy the great days that follow.  

Holiday gift certificates are available.

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 South-west Florida, and as a professional fishing guide for the past 23 years.