On the Water: Another week of up and down weather
It would be great to have one solid week that we could talk about fishing without weather concerns. Once again over the past week, conditions were good early to mid-week, then winds ramped up for the weekend with much needed rain and thunderstorms Sunday. April generally brings us relatively stable weather, let’s hope that plays out the second half of the month.
With that said, anglers still hit the water and fish were caught. On Saturday, despite high winds, anglers fishing the Bobby Holloway Jr. Memorial Fishing Tournament scored impressive catches.
For inshore action, mixed bag catches of seatrout, Spanish mackerel, bluefish, ladyfish and jack crevalle were the best things going. Often, all were hooked from the same areas while drifting 4 to 7-foot grass flats in Pine Island Sound from the powerlines north to Redfish Pass, between Rocky Channel and the fish shacks, and between Cabbage Key and Captiva Pass. Similar action was reported in Charlotte Harbor near the entrance to Bull Bay and around oyster shoals near Bokeelia.
As temperatures rebounded over the week, snook fishing improved each day as water temperatures climbed back above 70 degrees. Snook up to 35 inches were hooked around oyster bars, shorelines and island points in areas around the mouth of the Caloosahatchee River. Snook were also reported along shorelines between the gulf passes, Bokeelia’s Jug Creek, the east side of Charlotte Harbor between Burnt Store Marina and Punta Gorda, and islands and keys throughout Pine Island Sound. A few were also recorded in Matlacha Pass, but suspended or floating algae/grass often made fishing difficult.
Redfish were found in all the same areas as snook and were often caught together. On low water they were in the sand holes then moving under and near mangrove shorelines and oyster bars with the rising tide. Large “gator” trout up to 25 inches were hooked in areas with the snook and reds as well.
Season remains closed for trout, snook and redfish on waters of Southwest Florida from the Hernando/Pasco county line south through Gordon Pass in Collier County. Visit www.myfwc,com for all our current fishing regulations.
Conditions haven’t been ideal for tarpon, but they are around and hooked daily. On the windy days the best bet was at anchor while soaking cut mullet, ladyfish and catfish tails on bottom. If the wind wasn’t blowing, they often could be sighted rolling or free jumping — this was the best time to fish a large live threadfin, big pinfish or small crab under a float. Offshore, fish were reported in the mornings off Sanibel’s Knapp’s Point. Inshore, fish were targeted between Picnic Island and the Sanibel Causeway in San Carlos Bay, in Pine Island Sound between Captiva Rocks and Captiva Pass, and in Charlotte Harbor. Tarpon were also reported in Boca Grande Pass when conditions allowed. The best time to fish was over the incoming tide — once the tide turned out it created large amounts of floating grass making it difficult to keep lines clean.
Offshore, boats that pick the right day or have the capability to handle rough conditions are returning with good catches of red grouper, plus a mix of snapper, grunt, and porgy. Seventy-five to 120 feet continues to be the best depth to catch the bigger grouper. King mackerel up to 25 pounds and blackfin tuna were caught flat lining live baits and anglers report plenty of barracuda and sharks around reefs. Spanish mackerel, false albacore and mangrove snapper were caught over artificial reefs in 30 to 50-foot depths.
Consistent weather generally translates to consistent fishing. Nothing about our weather or fishing has showed any consistency for the better part of two months. I’m hoping that changes soon and we see a stretch of good weather to put our April fishing where it should be.
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 email@example.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.