As expected, for the time of year and changing weather conditions, fishing reports varied. Overall, anglers fared better than the previous week with many noting the fishing getting better each day.
Fishing for spotted sea trout was good in both Pine Island Sound and Matlacha Pass,. Many of the fish are running just barely undersized, but larger fish to 20 inches were reported. Capt. Cliff Simer reports limiting out on trout from 16 to 20 inches over the incoming tide while fishing shrimp under popping corks in sand potholes south of Useppa Island.
Also in Pine Island Sound, trout were caught from potholes and along bar drop-offs near the Flamingo Bay channel. Further south, Capt. Gary Clark found plenty of action with trout in sand holes and 4 to 6-foot grass bottom around the B-span of the Sanibel Causeway. Most of the fish were running a few inches undersized and mixed with ladyfish and an occasional pompano. Best baits were live shrimp or white DOA shrimp drifted under popping corks.
It took a little effort but Tom Lockyer and Merv Hughes, both visiting St. James from Brantford, Ontario, managed a nice catch of trout while enjoying a sunny and warm afternoon. They were fishing in Matlacha Pass with Capt. Bill Russell.
In Matlacha Pass a large percentage of the trout are running less than an inch under-sized with an occasional keeper. Fish were caught just off the channel on the east side of marker 69 and also between the channel and Indian Fields in 3 to 5-foot depths.
Kayak anglers report redfish tailing and pushing wake over the morning low tides in Ding Darling Wild-life Refuge on Sanibel. Fish were most active the first hour of the incoming tide east of the observation tower near the small mangrove Islands. Also in Ding Darling, snook, sheepshead and a few redfish were caught from the deeper creeks with a hard oyster bottom while free-lining live shrimp. Fishing from kayaks also worked for redfish near Pineland in the sound were fish to 24 inches were caught near Big Jim Creek and to the east of Josslyn Island. A few snook and keeper sized trout were also caught from these areas in the deeper sand holes. The best fishing was over the first few hours of the incoming on the mornings with the lowest tides.
From the Sanibel Pier, anglers landed sheepshead up to 5 pounds and a few pompano while fishing small white jigs tipped with shrimp near the pilings.
Capt. Sean McQuade reports good numbers of sheepshead in the gulf less than 3 miles off the beaches. Fish up to 6 pounds were caught over hard bottom along with a mix of mangrove snapper, porgies and grunts. Small live shrimp fished on bottom worked best. Also not too far off the beaches, tripletail up to 22 inches were sight fished under buoys from the idle zone along the Sanibel Beach out to 25 feet of water. The most hook-ups came on free-lined handpicked shrimp on a small circle hook and 30-pound fluorocarbon leader with light spinning tackle to make a long cast presentation.
With weekly cool fronts coming and going, the water temperature is constantly fluctuating up to 10 degrees inshore. The days are getting longer, the fronts should be getting weaker and the average water temperature will slowly begin to rise. Generally, sometime between the middle of February and March there is a week when the water temp hits that magic number and all you know what breaks loose on the water. Could this be the week?
Have a safe week and good fish'.