All was going well on the fishing front then Mother Nature stepped in and interfered. Strong winds and cooler weather crippled fishing for the later part of the week. Not all was lost, there was some good weather days and decent fishing, but just when the ball gets rolling and the bite is heating up, we hit a slight setback.
Inshore, pre-front the fishing was heating up with good reports of snook, large trout and redfish early in the week. Trout to 26 inches were reported around oyster bars, shorelines and docks throughout Pine Island Sound, Charlotte Harbor and Matlacha Pass. Live and cut pinfish, pilchards, soft plastics and deceiver or clouser minnow flies worked well over areas with a good tidal push. Smaller trout with about half to small and half keeper size were caught while drifting 3 to 6-foot grass flats north of Bokeelia, south of Rocky Channel and east of Buck Key in the Lower Sound. Spanish mackerel, ladyfish and jack crevalle were also caught from the same areas. Later in the week after the front moved through, the bite dropped off dramatically.
Redfish running in size anywhere from 17 to 29 inches were hooked early in the week on high water along shorelines and islands along Charlotte Harbor, around the keys on the eastern side of the Sound, near Foster's Point on Captiva and around "Ding" Darling Wildlife Refuge.
Brothers Owen and Nathan Rudy, ages 9 and 11, teamed up and caught some impressive red grouper. They were fishing west of Captiva Island with Capt. Sean McQuade.
Ahead of the adverse weather, tarpon sightings and hook-ups were on the rise. Several large fish were jumped in the northern Sound on either large pinfish under a float or soaking a cut ladyfish on bottom. A few scattered fish were also located off the sand bars off the east and western walls of Charlotte Harbor. Small pods of tarpon were frequent sightings off the Captiva/Sanibel beaches just outside the idle buoys. Look for the numbers to increase in the very near future.
Offshore, many anglers are targeting red grouper with good results, weather permitting. Keeper size reds were caught in depths from 60 to 90 feet from southwest off Knapp's Point on Sanibel to west of Boca Grande Pass. Most were caught while setting a drift over hard or coral bottom with live baits or jigs tipped with squid or Spanish sardines or tipped with 8-inch Gotcha Tails. Snapper, porgies and grunts were also caught over the hard bottom with a few of the mangrove snapper pushing 10 pounds. Amberjack, large king mackerel and African pompano were hooked over larger structure from the dame depths.
Although it's a great time of year to fish, it can also be very frustrating. Each time one of these fronts' drops through fishing is poor for several days as the water temperature drops. Inshore water temperature dropped down into the upper 60s where we would like to see it stabilize in the mid-70s. What we need is a couple weeks of consistent weather to keep the ball rolling. Let's hope this is the week it starts!
Have a safe week and good fishin'.
As a native of Pine Island, Bill Russell has spent his entire life fishing and learning the waters surrounding Pine Island and as a professional fishing guide for the past 18 years. Have a safe week and good fishin'.Have a safe week and good fishin'.