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On the Water: It was a good week of fishing

By Capt. Bill Russell - | Apr 21, 2021

Look for big redfish cruising the mangrove shorelines. Mark Thiel, visiting from Ohio, hooked into this redfish just as the tide turned out. It was caught and released in Matlacha Pass fishing with Capt. Bill Russell. PHOTO PROVIDED

Overall, it was a good week — a fishy week on the water. A little windy at times, but no complaints from the inshore guys, and offshore reports were good as well.

Good numbers of big Spanish mackerel came from inshore, around the gulf passes, and nearshore reefs. Inshore, anglers fishing of sand bar drop-offs and channel edges in depths from 4 to 9 feet hooked into good numbers of macks, along with seatrout and large ladyfish. Some of the largest fish were hooked in and around the gulf passes, including Captiva and Boca Grande, plus off the gulf side of the Sanibel Causeway. Manmade or artificial reefs in 20 to 40-foot depths off the coast held good numbers of Spanish mackerel plus a few king mackerel were in the mix.

To me, Spanish mackerel are a very underrated fish. They are lightning fast, hard fishing and very good to eat. I had baked mackerel for dinner just before sitting down to write this article. To get the best out of mackerel, you need to eat them fresh, not frozen. As soon as you catch them, get them in a cooler with slushy ice water, and cook it within a few days. If you haven’t tried them, you may be pleasantly surprised.

With consistent warm weather, the inshore bite for snook, seatrout and redfish was good all week. All three were hooked on live baits and a host of artificials, including flies. The incoming tides gave the best opportunities, as a combination of the afternoon sea breeze and outgoing tides often brought a lot of floating grass or algae. To have a chance at enticing a gamefish to eat, your bait must be clean or free of grass. At times this was hard or nearly impossible over the afternoon tides.

Anglers found good numbers of seatrout up to 22 inches in areas including north Matlacha Pass, grass flats surrounding Bokeelia and off the edge of grassy bottom inside Redfish and Captiva passes. Snook hook-ups came from the usual spots including island points, sand depressions and oyster bars throughout Matlacha Pass and Pine Island Sound, as well as around structure and off the beaches around the gulf passes. Redfish up to 33 inches were boated around the gulf passes and on high water along mangrove shorelines in Pine Island Sound, Matlacha Pass and the east and west wall of Charlotte Harbor. All three, snook, trout and redfish, were reported from land-based anglers fishing the Bokeelia Fishing Pier.

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 current fishing regulations.

During morning hours, if the winds were tolerable, tarpon were found in gulf waters of Sanibel’s Knapp’s Point. Live thread herring, pinfish and small crabs were top baits. Inshore, tarpon were jumped in the southern Sound just south of the powerlines and between Redfish Pass and Cabbage Key. Cut bait soaked on bottom, large live pinfish and thread herring were top baits inshore. Sharks of various size and species often took the baits intended for tarpon.

Cobia sighting are on the rise, as many were spotted cruising and several up to 38 inches were landed. Now is the time to keep a heavier outfit rigged and ready. Often when bringing in a smaller fish like a seatrout or ladyfish, a big cobia is right behind. If you are quick enough to get a bait such as a big live pinfish in the water, chances are good it is going to inhale the bait and the fun begins.

It was a good week on the water with warm consistent weather, good tides and plenty of hungry fish. Weekends are still crowded, but there is a noticeable difference in boat traffic on the water during the weekdays than in previous weeks. Busy season is winding down and it’s a great time to get on the water.

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.