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On the Water: Inshore fishing constant despite weather

By Capt. Bill Russell - | Apr 28, 2021

With warm spring weather, snook are hungry. Dave Lewandoski caught and released this healthy 33-inch snook in Pine Island Sound near Cabbage Key fishing with Capt. Bill Russell. PHOTO PROVIDED

First rain, then came the wind, that is how the week played out on the water. Early in the week, several days of thunderstorms brought us much needed rain, then blue skies returned with windy conditions. Offshore, there wasn’t much to report due to conditions, but inshore, anglers hooked into a variety of fish.

Large seatrout were caught and released in good numbers throughout the inshore waters including Matlacha Pass, Pine Island Sound and the perimeter of Charlotte Harbor. Wade fishermen hooked into trout, plus a few snook along Bokeelia shorelines, and kayak anglers boated trout up to 23 inches in Bokeelia’s Jug Creek and Burgess Bay. Kayak anglers also caught seatrout and redfish around Buzzard Bay in Matlacha Pass. Most fish were hooked on weedless soft plastic baits.

Live bait boats report good numbers of trout over grass flats inside of Redfish and Captiva passes, between the Blind Pass channel and Buck Key, and between the Flamingo Bay channel and Chino Island. Trout were also caught and released around Bokeelia Shoals.

Redfish catches were widespread across the inshore waters with the largest fish hooked near the gulf passes. Fish well over 30 inches were caught on live pinfish near the passes over the incoming tide. Reds averaging in size from 22 to 27 inches took live and cut bait, plus artificials around islands and keys across the eastern Sound, from Pineland to Panther Key.

Snook fishing was solid throughout the week with good catch-and-release action. Snook ran in size from 20 to 40 inches with most fish reported running from 22 to 26 inches. All the usual spots like shorelines, oyster bars, sand or potholes, docks and piers, plus structure along the beaches produced fish. Baits included live pilchards, thread herring, pinfish, shrimp and a host of top water and weedless rigged soft plastic baits. There is a lot of grass or algae in the water, and it really gets stirred up with the wind, often making if very difficult to fish areas for snook, trout and redfish. That was a common scenario much of the week.

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 and to give your input and suggestions on snook, trout and redfish closures.

Spanish mackerel are in good numbers in northern Matlacha Pass, Charlotte Harbor and Pine Island Sound. Mackerel schools are harassing large pods of thread herring in these areas. Look for bait schools on the surface and birds to locate the mackerel. Don’t be surprised if a tarpon jumps on your bait as they think thread herring are tasty as well.

With the wind, the best bet to hook a tarpon was to anchor up and fish cut bait on bottom. Small crabs, pinfish and herring under a float works as well, but often floating grass made for a difficult presentation. Reports of tarpon hook-ups came from Pine Island Sound south of Cabbage Key and south of the powerlines off the west side of the channel.

As April comes to a close, we can hope the wind subsides as the month of May rolls in. There is a lot of good fishing this time of year offshore and inshore, we just need a little cooperation from Mother Nature to take advantage of 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.