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On the Water: Anglers take advantage of good weather

By Capt. Bill Russell - | Jun 9, 2021

Ray Murphy and crew with a good haul of red snapper, grouper and other mixed fish. They were fishing west of Captiva Pass with Capt. Sean McQuade. PHOTO PROVIDED

With gag grouper and red snapper season open, anglers took advantage of good weather. It’s a long run west into Gulf waters to get to depths that red snapper call home, but conditions over the week allowed anglers to box their limits of snapper. Red snapper, red grouper, a few big gag grouper, plus mangrove and vermilion snapper were brought up from depths ranging from 110 to 150 feet. You can visit www.myfwc.com for all state and federal grouper and snapper regulations. 

Nearshore reefs in gulf waters are holding a variety of fish including cobia, permit, snapper, Spanish mackerel, barracuda, gag grouper and others. Various baits, including shrimp, squid, small crabs, live pilchards, herring or pinfish, plus fresh cut baits, give anglers the best opportunity at hooking a variety. The best action came from 30 to 50-foot depths. 

Tarpon hook-ups were reported in and around Boca Grande and Captiva passes, off the beaches of Cayo Costa, Captiva and Sanibel. Pine Island Sound, from Cabbage Key south to Roosevelt Channel and between Patricio Island and Bokeelia, were notable for tarpon. Chances at hooking a tarpon were best from first light to late morning and again in the late afternoon. Tarpon were eating crabs, thread herring, pinfish, squirrelfish, plus dead baits including mullet, ladyfish and shad.

Fly anglers report hook-ups while casting black and red or dark brown fly patterns.  

Sharks, and some really big ones, were sighted or hooked around schooling tarpon around the Gulf passes and off the beaches. The largest included hammerhead and bulls. Blacktip and spinner sharks are around the passes and beach and several to 6 feet were hooked while fishing around mackerel schools in Charlotte Harbor and Pine Island Sound. Good numbers of smaller blacktip, blacknose and sharp nose sharks, 3 feet and under, were hooked while trout fishing over grass flats across Pine Island Sound, San Carlos Bay and Charlotte Harbor.  

Snook action continues steady along the gulf beaches and passes as well as keys and islands in Pine Island Sound and along bar edges in Charlotte Harbor. Redfish were caught and released as well near the passes and throughout Pine Island Sound and the harbor. Snook and redfish season remains closed with catch and release only.

Visit www.myfwc.com for all current fishing regulations. 

Keeper size seatrout averaging from 15 to 17 inches, plus a few larger fish were caught over sand holes surrounded by turtle grass in Pine Island Sound. Some of the best reports were in areas near the Gulf passes in depths averaging 4-7 feet. Trout to 19 inches were caught in Charlotte Harbor just west of Bokeelia and between the fish shacks and Cabbage Key. Trout mixed with snook and snapper were reported in the surf along the beaches from Boca Grande south to Sanibel. Look for any type of submerged object along the surf to attract them. Go to www.myfwc.com or download the Fish Rules app for all current state and federal regulations. 

Each day the mangrove snapper action is improving inshore. For anglers that enjoy catching a fresh fish dinner, they are our staple throughout the summer months. Snapper were caught in the Gulf passes, under piers and bridges and under mangrove overhangs. Snapper fishing should only get better as we move forward.  

With tarpon season at its peak, many guides and anglers are devoting most of their time chasing the silver king. If battling a tarpon isn’t your thing, this is a great time to target other species, as they are getting nowhere near the fishing pressure as any previous months.

This is a great time to have some fun with catch-and-release redfish or snook, or on a calm day, make a run offshore. 

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.