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On the Water: Winter closes with windy fishing conditions

By Capt. Bill Russell - | Mar 24, 2021

The last week of winter gave us wind day after day and a cool front for the weekend. Conditions were often difficult, but anglers that put in the time caught fish.

Spanish mackerel reports were good with fish up to 4 pounds boated. They were hooked in north Matlacha Pass near marker 69, off bar edges in Charlotte Harbor near Bokeelia, in Pine Island Sound over grass/sand mix bottom near the intercoastal, between the B and C span of the Sanibel Causeway on the Gulf side, and inside Redfish and Captiva Passes. Shore-bound anglers hooked into macks from the Matlacha Drawbridge and the Bokeelia Fishing Pier. Live shrimp under a popping or rattling cork was the top bait, with live pilchards, small spoons and Gotcha lures also catching fish.

Sand holes and holes around oyster bars held spotted seatrout up to 24 inches in Pine Island Sound with a good number of fish released in the 20-inch class. Seatrout reports also came around Bokeelia including grass flats to the north and west, in Burgess Bay, and eastern Jug Creek. To the south, trout were plentiful between Tarpon Bay and Blind Pass, including areas around “Ding” Darling Wildlife Refuge.

Snook and redfish was a good option over the windy days, allowing anglers to fish with success in areas that offered protection. Both species were hooked around Redfish and Blind passes, keys and islands throughout Pine Island Sound and Matlacha Pass. Redfish up to 32 inches and snook measuring 36 inches were caught and released while fishing free-lined live shrimp, pilchards and pinfish, along with Berkley Gulp Baits and Rapala X-raps. Fishing for both species will only improve as spring brings us warmer water and higher tides.

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.

Inshore anglers hooked into sharks ranging in size from 2 to 6 feet. A few bull sharks up to 6 feet were released in Pine Island Sound near Demere Key and 3-foot and under black tip, sharp nose and bonnetheads were caught while fishing for trout and mackerel in previous mentioned areas. Baits included cut mullet and ladyfish, plus live shrimp and pinfish. Several cobia up to 32 inches were also hooked over the week in south Matlacha Pass and Charlotte Harbor near Bokeelia.

March is notoriously known as a windy month in Southwest Florida, on my account, the windiest of the year. Good news, winter is over, and spring has arrived. Moving forward, windy conditions should become less frequent, plus fewer and weaker cool fronts. Spring kicks off maybe the best weather and fishing of the year.

Get on the water and enjoy it!

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.