So much for spring. After a few nice, warm days, winter proves once again it won't stay away. Cool temperatures, plenty of wind, plus some rain once again challenged anglers. Right about when the weather gets right and the fishing gets good we hit the reset button as another front moves through. I know our weather is very mild in comparison to up north, but it has a huge effect on our fishing.
Some of the biggest trout of the season were reported in Pine Island Sound, with fish up to 27 inches caught on the Sounds eastern side. Many fish are running over 20 inches, the best baits were live baitfish and top or sub-surface lures that imitated small mullet or sardines. The big trout are gearing up for their spring spawn and feeding heavily on oily baitfish. Smaller school size trout with about one of every ten caught in the keeper range were reported over grass flats north of power lines in the lower Sound and grass flats between Captiva Rocks and the fish shacks in the Sound. Flounder up to 16 inches were often a bonus catch from these areas.
Redfish were hit or miss much of the week, often good numbers were found but unwilling to eat. Captain Sean McQuade found several mid to upper slot reds around the Keys on the Sounds eastern side that turned on over warm, sunny afternoons.
Fishing isn't always bad on the cold days. Pictured is Bonnie Nixon of Sebring Fl with a big pompano that took a live shrimp. She was fishing a cool afternoon near Cayo Costa State Park with Capt. Bill Russell.
Most fish were caught while casting into schooling mullet along shorelines with a hand-picked live shrimp, free-lined about a foot under a popping cork. Other anglers found a few reds willing to eat artificial lures, including DOA Cal shad tails in watermelon and new penny colors.
In north Matlacha Pass, a mix of ladyfish, mackerel, and mostly small trout provided good action along the channel edge from marker 72 south to the S curve. Small silver spoons or live shrimp under popping corks worked best.
There wasn't many calm days for offshore reports with the continuous wind, however a few anglers did manage to fish near shore reefs a few miles off the beach and caught sheepsheads and snapper, plus catch and release gag grouper. Spanish mackerel were also caught over the near shore reefs, most fish were taken on shrimp.
As season winds down big sheepsheads were caught from docks inside the Gulf Passes and docks at Punta Rassa, just inside the Sanibel Causeway. Several pompano and flounder were also caught from these areas.
I know most anglers are ready to put winter behind us and get into a more consistent weather pattern. April is only a week away; March is always an iffy month and the windiest of the year. Just a little bit longer and we should be able to put winter weather behind us for good.
Have a safe week and good fishin'.