For the most part of the past week, anglers made due with unsettled weather than included a steady breeze, often blowing from the east. While an east wind is generally associated with bad fishing, there were reports of some good action.
Windy days almost always make tarpon fishing a challenge and often requires a lot more hunting to locate the fish. On the calmer mornings, tarpon were found schooling in 18 to 25-foot depths off the beach of south Sanibel near Knapp's Point. Capt. Kevin Holley found the fish hungry in the mornings with large live thread herrings the top bait, however many days the seas were too rough to safely fish the area.
Tarpon fishing was good in and around Boca Grande Pass according to Capt. Mark Westra. Fish were hooked on the hill (inside the pass) and pan (outside the pass) on small crabs and big thread herring. The best bite was late afternoon on live crabs fished near bottom. Other anglers report tarpon pods eating thread herring on the hill in the mornings and pods of fish along the beach north and south of the pass. Scattered tarpon were also located between Fosters Point and Demere Key in the sound, but the winds stirred up a lot of grass and made it difficult for fishing with anything other than cut bait on bottom.
Look for trout on the deeper grass flats and around oyster bars. Pictured is Joan Engstrom of Naples, Fla., with one of many that was caught Friday while fishing with Capt. Bill Russell.
All areas that held tarpon also held sharks, with plenty of blacktips from 3 to 5 feet reported. A few hammerheads were also noted off the beaches. Further offshore in depths from 40 to 65 feet, a few king mackerel up to 20 pounds were caught either trolling or live baiting, including one that topped 20 pounds that took a live blue runner at Pace's Place reef. Bottom fishing turned up decent catches of lane snapper plus a few red grouper southwest of Sanibel in 55 to 70 foot depths.
Inshore reports included trout, redfish, snook, Spanish mackerel and snapper. Trout up to 20 inches were caught on a variety of lures and live bait over grassy bottom in 5 to 8-foot deeps in areas including northwest Matlacha Pass, the flats from Useppa, south to the fish shacks in the northern sound, around Red Light Shoals to the south, and off the gulf side of the Sanibel Causeway. Mackerel were also taken from these locations plus inside of Redfish and Captiva Passes, and north of Bokeeia in Charlotte Harbor.
Those reporting redfish found the best bite at the upper stages of the tide with baits tight under the mangroves. Fish appear to be scattered with one or two fish caught from an area then nothing. Cut baits often out fished live with top choices including ladyfish steaks and pinfish cut in half. Most fish were taken from Island points and coves facing into the wind and tide.
A few snook were caught while targeting redfish, however most were found around the barrier islands both on the beach and bayside. Early morning sight casters found good opportunities to present flies to snook feeding in the surf near Bowman's Beach on Sanibel. Rocks and snags along the beaches also held snook, both large and small from Blind Pass north to Boca Grande. On the bayside of the islands, look for snook along the shorelines over sandy pockets of bottom and under mangrove overhangs.
Mangrove snapper were caught from the same areas as snook and redfish plus around any type of structure including docks, piers, bridges, etc. The water is still pretty clear and snapper have keen eyesight, it's a good idea to lighten up the tackle to fool the larger fish.
June is here, the crowds on the water have thinned out considerably. That doesn't mean there isn't plenty of good fishing, just more fish for fewer anglers. Get out there and enjoy it!
Have a safe week and good fishin'.