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On the Water: It was a good week to catch an inshore slam

By Capt. Bill Russell - | Oct 12, 2021

Lisa Strange, visiting from Iowa, is all smiles after winning the battle with her first cobia. She was fishing Charlotte Harbor near Bokeelia with Capt. Bill Russell. Photo provided

It was a good week for catching the big three (snook, redfish and seatrout) inshore species. Anglers found good action all week and many report catching all three species for an inshore slam. 

Fishing the morning low tides around holes, troughs and natural channels off the flats, then moving with the incoming tide to fish around oyster bars, shorelines and flats worked for good numbers of catch-and-release redfish up to 35 inches. Baits included live shrimp, pilchards and pinfish (live and cut), fresh cut ladyfish, Berkley Gulp shrimp, gold weedless spoons and suspended twitch baits.

A few areas mentioned included islands, keys and bars around Regla Island, shorelines and oyster bars from “Ding” Darling Wildlife Refuge north to Buck Key, Pine Island Sound between Flaming Bay and Pineland Marina, on the west side of Matlacha Pass from Indian Fields to Bokeelia, and along Charlotte Harbors eastern shore. 

Anglers report good action with catch-and-release snook with fish very hungry at times. Snook were hooked in many of the same areas as redfish as well as along the beaches and Gulf passes from Sanibel to Boca Grande.

From land, snook were caught and released around the Blind Pass Bridge, the Matlacha Drawbridge and Bokeelia Fishing Pier. Many of the baits mentioned for redfish were also top baits for snook. 

Seatrout numbers was good with fish averaging 14 to 16 inches with a few over 20 inches. Most were caught over 3 to 7-foot grass flats with good water movement and bait schools nearby. Areas between Hemp Key and Captiva Pass, south of Useppa Island, and the northern Sound and Charlotte Harbor around Bokeelia all gave up good trout action.

Pompano are beginning to make a presence as they were hooked along sand drop-offs inside Redfish and Captiva passes, off sand bars between Matlacha and Bokeelia and the Burnt Store Bar in Charlotte Harbor. Pompano were caught on live shrimp under a float, plus small pompano jigs in yellow, chartreuse and pink.

Spanish mackerel were scattered in Matlacha Pass north of marker 76, in Charlotte Harbor around Oyster Shoals and the Bokeelia Bar, and just outside Captiva and Redfish passes.

Shore-bound anglers also hooked macks from the Sanibel and Bokeelia fishing piers. Silver spoons, small jerk baits, small mylar jigs, live pilchards and shrimp were top baits. Several cobia and blacktip sharks were hooked with the mackerel as well.

Mangrove snapper inshore are beginning to thin out. Fishing in the Sound is good, but numbers dropped significantly in Matlacha Pass.

In the Sound they were targeted in different areas including sand holes, shorelines and points, oyster bars, underwater structure, docks and piers, plus hard bottom in the passes. Best baits included shrimp, pilchards, small pinfish, plus small jigs tipped with shrimp. They appear to be on the move, possibly following bait schools.

Look for birds and bait schools to help locate the snapper inshore. If you can time the slack tide around the Gulf passes, this may be your best bet for a bucket of keepers.  

There have been changes to various species of grouper, snapper and other reef fish recently.  You can keep up to date with fishing regulations by visiting www.myfwc.com. Also, upload the Fish Rules app on your phone. It has current regulations with pictures to help identify fish.  

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.