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On the Water: Fishing is good around Gulf waters

By Capt. Bill Russell - | Jun 16, 2021

First time fishing in Florida, Travis from Lincoln, Nebraska, caught and released himself a big redfish. He was fishing around Captiva Island with Capt. Bill Russell. PHOTO PROVIDED

Except for the fact we could really use some rain, it was a great week on the water with sunny warm days and not too much wind.  

With red snapper season open, anglers took advantage of decent weather and made the long run into Gulf waters with mixed success. Red snapper limits were caught from seventy to one-hundred ten miles offshore, with the larger fish coming from the furthest distance. Other fish including red, gag, and scamp grouper, plus African pompano were also boated.  

In closer, from 70 to 90 feet, a variety of fish were hooked over hard bottom, reliefs and artificial reefs. Lane, mangrove and vermilion snapper, plus red and gag grouper, were caught on a variety of live and cut bait. Barracuda, goliath grouper, a few large or “smoker” king mackerel, amberjacks, permit and lots of sharks were also reported. 

Catch-and-release snook fishing is good around the beaches and Gulf passes during the stronger tides. Anglers often found big redfish and snook concentrated together around structure around the Gulf islands. In Matlacha Pass, kayak anglers report catching snook, snapper, jack crevalle and a few redfish north of the bridge near Pine Island Creek. 

Also, around the Gulf passes, Spanish mackerel and ladyfish were found schooling inside and outside Captiva and Redfish passes. Shiny jigs and silver spoons were the baits of choice with the best bite over the incoming tide. Blacktip and spinner sharks to 5 feet were hanging around mackerel schools as well. 

Mangrove snapper limits were caught along mangrove shorelines and around structure in Pine Island Sound, Matlacha Pass and around the passes. From land, snapper were hooked from the Matlacha Bridge, Bokeelia Fishing Pier and Blind Pass. Shrimp was the top bait, either fished live with a very light weight or on a small jig head. Small pilchards, pinfish and cut bait also worked. Spanish mackerel, snook and redfish were also landed from the Bokeelia Fishing Pier. 

Seatrout were scattered over grass flats in 4 to 7-foot depths across Pine Island Sound and Charlotte Harbor. The best option is to drift and cover ground while casting lures or fishing shrimp under popping corks. This method also turned up Spanish mackerel, pompano, sharks, bluefish and a lot of ladyfish. If you want to hook into a bigger shark, a chunk of ladyfish on a heavier rig with wire leader should do the trick. 

Around Boca Grande Pass, the best tarpon action came late afternoon, early evening before and after dark. On mornings with little wind, fish were sighted along the beaches in the early mornings from Gasparilla Pass south to Redfish Pass. Tarpon were also reported in Pine Island Sound off the west side of the channel from Redfish Pass north to Punta Blanca Island. 

There is a lot of ongoing concern around the island with our water quality. If you live in Matlacha, boated in Matlacha Pass or looked over the bridges while driving through, you have no doubt noticed how bad the water looks and smells. It is by far the worst I have seen in my lifetime. Pine Island Sound is better but there is a lot or reason for concern as well. I don’t know what the answer is, or if it will improve or deteriorate more once we start getting daily rain showers. I can only hope it gets better, and soon. 

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.