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On the Water: Fishing was good over the full moon

By Capt. Bill Russell - | Jun 30, 2021

Another big snook As summer progresses, snook are on the move to and around the outer islands and beaches. Chris Thorne, visiting from Colorado, hooked this snook on a live pilchard near Captiva Island fishing with Capt. Bill Russell. PHOTO PROVIDED

Overall, weather was good over the past week. A full moon brought strong tides, winds varied day to day, as did thunderstorms and rain.

Most days the wind wasn’t strong enough to keep boats in port, as many made the trek into Gulf waters. Far out, in depths well over a hundred feet, red snapper plus a few large gag grouper were boated. Red grouper up to 26 inches were hooked over hard bottom in depths from 80 to 115 feet. Mangrove, lane and vermilion snappers, plus grunts and porgies, were boated from the same depth.

Public wrecks and reefs in the same depths yielded hard-fighting fish including amberjack, goliath grouper, barracuda, king mackerel, bonito and sharks. Nearshore reefs within sight of land, in 30 to 50-foot depths are holding Spanish mackerel, barracuda, sharks, snapper, grouper, snook and big goliath grouper. Bottom fishing over reefs, ledges and hard bottom near shore yielded a mixed bag of snapper, grunts, mackerel and undersized grouper.

Schools of Spanish mackerel were reported around the Gulf passes, the Sanibel Causeway, off the Sanibel Lighthouse and Charlotte Harbor. Small silver spoons and mylar jigs with a fast retrieve was the top method while on the drift, and freelining small live pilchards, herring or shrimp also working well. On days with light wind, mackerel were often sighted leaping from the water while chasing small fish. Keep an eye out for concentrations of birds to help locate the feeding action.

Tarpon hook-ups came from Pine Island Sound, off the beaches, Boca Grande Pass and Charlotte Harbor. As usual with tarpon, some days, or hours, cut bait was preferred, or it was live crabs, pinfish or thread herring, and at times they turned up their nose to any and all offerings. Large bull and hammerhead sharks are following the tarpon. When hooked up to a tarpon keep a close eye out and be prepared to quickly break the tarpon off when sharks arrive. This is the only way the tarpon has a fighting chance at survival.

Decent trout reports came from Pine Island Sound and Charlotte Harbor. Trout up to 22 inches were hooked in 3 to 7-foot depths south of Captiva Rocks, around Foster and Pejuan bayous and northwest Bokeelia. At times, the bite started slow and quickly picked up after a few were caught. Jack crevalle, bluefish, Spanish mackerel, ladyfish and sharks also came from these areas. Seatrout, Spanish mackerel and ladyfish were caught in north Matlacha Pass over flats between markers 68 and 76.

Snook fishing was good in and around the Gulf passes as the full moon concentrated spawning fish. Fish up to 40 inches were caught and released on pinfish, thread herring, pilchards, grunts or pigfish, and hand-picked shrimp. Redfish to 32 inches were hooked with the snook around the passes on the same baits. On the lower tides, redfish were found on drop-offs and troughs around sand bars and shorelines along the eastern and western side of Charlotte Harbor and the eastern portion of Pine Island Sound.

Summer is here, most days are very warm with a light wind, and the potential for afternoon thunderstorms. This is great weather for fishing — just make sure to bring more drinking water than you think you may need and pay attention for thunderstorms.

Snook and redfish remain closed in our area with catch-and-release only. Visit www.myfwc for all current fishing regulations. 

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.