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On the Water: Great weather continues

June 27, 2018
By CAPT. BILL RUSSELL , Island Reporter, Captiva Current, Sanibel-Captiva Islander

If you wanted flat calm seas to venture offshore into Gulf waters, then you were in luck over the past week. Almost no wind allowed boats of all sizes to venture into Gulf waters in search of a variety of fish.

With the recreational red snapper season open, anglers took advantage of the great weather and made the long run west with good success.

Depths from 140 to 165 feet turned up limits of nice reds, plus a mix of others including red, gag and strawberry grouper; scamp; porgy; plus schoolie dolphin (mahi).

Article Photos

Father and son Greg and John Lambrecht from Pine Island teamed up to battle this big goliath grouper. Of course, John was the only one crazy enough to jump in the water for the up and personal photo. They were fishing west of Captiva with Gulf Coast Guide Service and Capt. Bill Russell.

In shallower depths, from 55 to 70 feet, a mixed variety was caught over hard bottom, reliefs and structure. Good numbers of lane snapper and margate grunts, plus a few red grouper over 20 inches, along with porgys, pork fish and triggerfish.

Artificial reefs were a good starting point for mangrove snapper, Spanish mackerel and sharks. The Causeway and Pace's Place reefs were a couple good areas mentioned over the week. King mackerel, barracuda and goliath grouper were also noted.

Catch-and-release snook fishing was good around the beaches and Gulf passes with the strong full moon tides. Some large snook were also caught and released from nearshore reefs. Red tide reports varied from day to day along the beaches and passes, with the worst possibly coming from Boca Grande Pass and north. In Matlacha Pass, kayak anglers report catching snook, jack crevalle and a few redfish south of the bridge around oyster bars and island points.

Also, around the passes, good action was reported with big Spanish mackerel around Captiva and Redfish passes. Live pilchards, white nylon jigs and silver spoons were the baits of choice. Best bite was over the incoming tide.

Mangrove snapper limits were caught along mangrove shorelines and around structure in Pine Island Sound, Matlacha Pass and around the passes. From land, snapper were hooked from the Matlacha Bridge, Bokeelia and Sanibel fishing piers, and Blind Pass. Shrimp was the top bait, either fished live with a very light weight or on a small jig head.

Anglers found sea trout scattered over grass flats in 4 to 6-foot depths, with the best option to drift and cover ground while casting lures or fishing shrimp under popping corks. This method also turned up several pompano, small blacktip sharks, bluefish and a lot of ladyfish.

Big hill tides concentrated a lot of the tarpon fishing around Boca Grande Pass. Fish were sighted along the beaches in the early mornings and inside the Pass on the afternoon falling tide. Tarpon were also reported in the Sound north of Captiva Pass and 4 to 5 miles west of Cayo Costa State Park.

There were lots of reports of dead fish over the week, no doubt from red tide, and it changed from day to day. The worst areas that I was aware was from Boca Grande and north. I haven't noticed anything inshore, other than floating fish that have come through the Gulf passes with the tide. Let's hope it doesn't getting any worse and this great weather continues.

One last thing, with the light wind and beginning of summer, if you haven't noticed, it's hot out there! Bring plenty of water, keep hydrated, find some shade, and make sure those you are with do the same.

If you have a fishing report or for charter information, please contact us at: Gulf Coast Guide Service, 239-283-7960 or visit or email

Have a safe week and good fishin'.

As a native of Pine Island, Capt. 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.



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