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On the Water: Warm days bring some good fishing

By Capt. Bill Russell - | Feb 17, 2021

With temperatures on a steady climb all week and warmer waters, fishing was good. Weekdays brought calm seas giving good days for the offshore run, then winds ramped up for the weekend keeping most boats inshore.

Anglers hunting for a sheepshead dinner, boated fish up to 5 pounds in the usual locations –docks, piers, bridges, oyster bars and creeks inshore, plus reefs offshore. Fish were reported in and near the Gulf passes, the Matlacha Drawbridge, Bokeelia pier and artificial reefs south of Captiva. Mangrove snapper, grunts and catch-and-release gag grouper were also mixed with the sheepshead offshore. Many of the snapper measured up to 15 inches.

Plenty of jack crevalle, plus redfish, pompano and a few flounder were caught while targeting sheepshead around structure near the Gulf passes.

Spotted seatrout action continues on a steady rise week after week. Trout were caught and released in 4 to 6-foot depths on the bay and Gulf side of the Sanibel Causeways islands. Spanish mackerel, pompano, bluefish and ladyfish were also mixed with the trout on the Gulf side. Good numbers of trout came from Pine Island Sound between the powerlines and red-light shoals, south of the fish shacks and between Captiva Pass and Cabbage Key. Ladyfish, pompano and a few sharks were also hooked.

In Matlacha Pass, seatrout, plus ladyfish and jack crevalle were caught between markers 66 and 72 off the east side of channel. A couple pompano were reported as well. Similar action came from the north side of Bokeelia along bar drop-offs.

With the rising water temperature, the snook bite was heating up as the week progressed. A southwest wind and warmer water over the weekend gave us decent high tides and hungry fish. Snook up to 36 inches were caught and released along shorelines on the western side of Pine Island Sound, Bokeelia’s Jug Creek and northern Matlacha Pass. Most fish were hooked on live pilchards, pinfish, hand-pick shrimp and lures that looked like any of the three. Seatrout up to 23 inches were hooked with the snook as well.

The same baits mentioned for snook worked for redfish up to 30 inches. Reds were found along the eastern wall of Charlotte Harbor and across the Harbor near Bull Bay. Also, reds were caught near Blind and Redfish Passes, plus shorelines and sand holes south of Pineland.

Season remains closed for snook, spotted seatrout and redfish with catch-and-release only in waters of Southwest Florida from the Hernando/Pasco county line south through Gordon Pass in Collier County. Visit www.myfwc.com for all current regulations.

Offshore, fishing depths from 80 to 95 feet produced grouper and snapper with snapper often giving the better action. Some days anglers put a limit of grouper in the box and other days the grouper bite was slow, and snapper was good.

It looks like our warming trend is coming to an end later this week. We should have days with good fishing leading up to the approaching cold front. If you get a chance, get on the water, and take advantage of the warm 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.