How weather can change everything on the water. After a cool November that dropped water temperatures and jump started the winter fishing pattern, December rolled in with mild sunny days and reversed the trend. Warmer water and plenty of sunshine has brought back droves of baitfish, plus hungry predators giving anglers lots to fish for.
Spanish mackerel and bluefish were found in good numbers throughout Charlotte Harbor, in deeper waters of Pine Island Sound and on the gulf side of the Sanibel Causeway. Most were located feeding on bait schools in 5 to 8-foot depths over grass/sand marbled bottom. Live pilchards, shrimp, small silver spoons and chartreuse shad tails on a 1/2- ounce jig head were baits of choice.
Big ladyfish, trout, jacks, and at least one big cobia were also hooked.
The macks are back. Mild weather has brought spanish mackerel back to inshore waters. Nick Longsworth of Memphis, Tenn., boated mackerel, bluefish and hooked into a big cobia while fishing with Capt. Bill Russell near Bokeelia in Charlotte Harbor.
Trout, with a few over 20 inches were caught in Pine Island Sound. The largest were taken from sand potholes surrounded by turtle grass flats.
Fish were caught on live shrimp, either under a popping cork or freelined, and a variety of artificials.
A few nice flounder were also taken from the holes, and redfish were found in similar sand holes on the lower stages of the tide near Buck Key and south of Demere Key.
The new Matlacha Bridge is open for fishing with anglers reporting plenty of ladyfish, small mangrove snapper, a few nice sheepsheads and small snook after dark. All fish reported were caught on live shrimp.
Sheepsheads, pompano and Spanish mackerel were caught by shore-bound anglers from the Sanibel Fishing Pier and at Blind Pass on Captiva, sheeps-head, black drum and pompano were reported.
Pompano running between 12 and 17 inches were caught from boats drifting the passes (Redfish & Captiva) while bouncing white or pink pompano jigs.
In the gulf waters, hard fighting bonito or little tuny, averaging 10 to 12 pounds, were found under feeding birds just off the beach north of Boca Grande Pass. These hard fighting, tackle busting fish were hooked on Clark silver spoons and white X-Raps. Also, not far from shore flounder and sheepshead were caught on structure in depths from 20 to 30 feet on live shrimp west of Captiva.
Further out in the gulf, out to 30 miles, limits of red grouper were taken over hard bottom in depths from 65 to 75 feet. Most fish were caught on live grunts, pinfish and large cut bait while drifting.
I'm always amazed at how much weather dictates our fishing and how quickly things can change. As long as the temperatures remain mild we can expect more of the same - lots of opportunities for lots of different fish. It's awful hard to set aside a day for Christmas shopping, that's just going to have to wait, the days are just too nice on the water.
Have a safe week and good fishin'.