A variety of fish caught over the week
Despite a little wind, anglers fared well through the week ahead of a cool front that brought rain and strong winds for the weekend.
Offshore reports came early in the week ahead of rough seas that settled in mid-week. Fishing over hard or coral bottom, several boats report limiting on red grouper fishing depths from 75 to 100 feet. A mixed bag of snapper, grunts and porgy also came from the same bottom. Limits of mangrove snapper were caught in 50 to 60-foot depths west of Captiva on live shrimp while fishing hard bottom and ledges.
Nearshore artificial reefs held a variety of fish including snapper, barracuda, sharks, flounder, plus Spanish and king mackerel. Sheepshead numbers appear to be winding down following the full moon spawn. Reports of Spanish mackerel also came off the coast near the gulf passes.
Inshore, Spanish mackerel were common catches in north Matlacha Pass, Charlotte Harbor, Pine Island Sound, and near the Sanibel Causeway. Fishing 5 to 9-foot depths with a grass/sand mixed bottom gave the best results. Shrimp under a popping cork, live pilchards, silver spoons and a host of small shiny lures got their attention. A few pompano were also caught in Matlacha Pass and Pine Island Sound fishing the same type of bottom and channel edges. For the pompano, hard bodied pompano jigs in white or chartreuse and live shrimp suspended under a rattling popping cork worked well.
Good numbers of seatrout were caught and released throughout Pine Island Sound and across the harbor outside Bull and Turtle bays. Trout are getting larger by the day with several fish over 20 inches reported. Ladyfish, jack crevalle, mackerel,and small sharks were hooked while catching trout in 4 to 7-foot depths over grassy bottom.
At times, the tide movement was slow; when it was moving, snook and redfish were feeding. A mix of both together came while fishing shorelines and structure from Sanibel’s “Ding” Darling to Redfish Pass. A few tailing reds were sight-fished on the eastern side of Pine Island Sound near Demere Key and snook were caught around islands on the eastern side. In Matlacha Pass, snook and reds were caught and released in Buzzard and Smokehouse bays.
Season remains closed with catch-and-release fishing only for snook, spotted seatrout and redfish in waters of Southwest Florida from the Hernando/Pasco county line south through Gordon Pass in Collier County. Go to www.myfwc.com for all current and updated regulations.
Sharks are becoming more numerous and we are hearing the first reports of tarpon hook-ups. Both were hooked inshore around natural channels between the flats and off the edges of the intercoastal channel in Pine Island Sound. Cut mullet, ladyfish or catfish tail soaked on bottom is a good bet to hook into a big shark or early season tarpon.
As winter winds down, cool fronts are becoming weaker and water temperature will continue to rise. Reports of tarpon will become more common as well as sharks and other species moving into our waters.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.