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On the Water: Local fishing is good between fronts

By Capt. Bill Russell - | Feb 10, 2021

A few snook were eating over the sunny warm days. Tanner Peer with a good snook, caught and released on a warm day near Punta Rassa. PHOTO PROVIDED

Fishing was on and off this week due to vastly changing weather conditions. Several days were just unfishable due to high winds and unsafe conditions.

Offshore anglers only had a couple days to head out over the week between fronts and strong winds. Conditions were still bumpy, but fish were boated around nearshore reefs and deeper out to 100 feet. Bottom dropping in depths from 75 to 100 feet turned up limits of red grouper for a few boats, plus mangrove and lane snapper and some extra-large porgy. Nearshore, a mix of sheepsheads, snapper, grunts and a few hogfish came from 30 to 45-foot depths. Several boats reported that sheepsheads are running larger than previous weeks.

Inshore, the sheepshead report was better than previous weeks. Over the windy days, anglers tucked into protected creeks and shorelines around the mouth of the Caloosahatchee River, south Matlacha Pass, Punta Rassa, Tarpon Bay and “Ding” Darling. Working cut shrimp with a light split-shot weight, shrimp-tipped jigs and freelined shrimp fooled sheepsheads up to four pounds, plus catch-and-release snook, redfish and small snapper. Sheepshead up to 5 pounds came from docks, structure and shorelines from Punta Rassa up the coast and barrier Islands to the Placida railroad trestle. Shore-bound anglers hooked a few big sheepshead from the Bokeelia Fishing Pier. As with offshore, the average size reported was larger from previous weeks.

Catch-and-release fishing for seatrout remained strong around the island in areas including north Matlacha Pass, throughout Pine Island Sound and south of St. James between marker 13 and Tarpon Bay. Many of the trout are running 18 inches and larger and appear to be fattening up for their upcoming spawn. Large ladyfish, plus a few Spanish mackerel and pompano were caught as well.

Across Charlotte Harbor, around Bull and Turtle bay, anglers hooked into good numbers of trout, redfish and large ladyfish. Several pompano also came from bar edges or drop-offs in the area.

That was some strong cold north wind last week that really churned up the water offshore and inshore. Looks like this week it should settle down and make for better fishing days.

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.