Santa Claus brought us blue skies and warm weather for much of the holiday week, perfect for fishing and spending time on the water. Some days led to good catches and others fishing was slow; regardless it was a great time to be on the water.
Sheepshead were reported in south Matlacha Pass around deep oyster bars and creeks, under docks in St. James City, Tarpon Bay and Roosevelt Channel, plus the Bokeelia Fishing Pier, and then on the slower tide days better action was found over structure near Redfish, Captiva and Boca Grande passes.
Fresh shrimp cut in half and threaded on a small sharp j-hook or circle hook with a small sliding egg sinker and a couple feet of 20 to 30-pound fluorocarbon leader is one of the most popular sheepshead rigs.
Phil Ferarra and friends from the Palmera Fishing Club in South Fort Myers with a limit of nice trout up to 22 inches. They were fishing near Bokeelia on the falling tide with Capt. Bill Russell.
Unlike most of our fish, the colder it gets the better the sheepshead like it; often they feed best on the coldest, nastiest days.
Anglers are reporting scattered redfish caught in both Matlacha Pass and Pine Island Sound. Many of the fish are on the small side known as "rat reds" averaging from 14-17 inches.
While these juvenile fish are too undersized to invite home for dinner, they still put on a great fight for their size. In Matlacha Pass, the fish were caught under the mangroves in the washouts of some of the deeper creeks and around the perimeter of oyster bars.
In the Sound, potholes, deep mangrove shorelines and creek mouths from Blind Pass down to Tarpon Bay on Sanibel held good numbers.
For baits, a live shrimp fished under a popping cork or on bottom with a small split-shot sinker was hard to beat. Shrimp-tipped quarter-ounce jigs and Gulp shrimp also got their attention.
For larger redfish, those measuring from 20-26 inches, the best reports came from anglers fishing the shallower flats in south Matlacha Pass, the eastern side of Charlotte Harbor and in Pine Island Sound between Pineland and Demere Key, and near Buck Key behind Captiva. Gold weedless spoons, handpicked shrimp, Gulp shrimp and cut ladyfish, mullet and pinfish produced bites on both tailing and waking reds.
Reports of sea trout were better this week than the previous few. Fish up to 18 inches were caught on DOA shrimp in a natural color with a rattle in 3 to 5 feet of water in north Matlacha Pass, the best bite was during mid-day. In Pine Island Sound, trout were taken in potholes averaging about 5-foot in depth from the power lines to Galt Island on the eastern side and near Foster's Point of Captiva.
On the lower tides, anglers found the best action while casting live shrimp suspended under a popping cork, DOA CAL jigs in a shiner pattern and shrimp on a jig head. Several flounder and a few pompano were also caught from the potholes.
Pompano were also reported around Redfish and Captiva Passes in six to twelve foot depths over and bottom.
Offshore, red grouper to 29 inches were reported in 65 to 80-foot depths. Baits included live pinfish, grunts and cut Spanish sardines, cut ladyfish or squid fished on a jig head. Porgies and grunts were also caught from the same depths on lighter tackle with live shrimp or cut sardines. Mangrove snapper up to 5 pounds were also caught from these depths.
Chances are good that we will continue with warm weather to close out the year, make sure and take advantage and get another trip or two on the water before 2016 comes to an end. Wishing everyone a safe and Happy New Year!
If you have a fishing report or for charter information or to purchase a Holiday Gift Certificate, please contact us at 239-283-7960, on the Web at www.fishpine-island.com or email: email@example.com.
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.