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On The Water: It’s hard to beat mackerel for action

By Staff | Apr 13, 2010

Clayton Boyd took advantage of spring break and caught this big 30-inch snook in Matlacha. Clayton is the grandson of longtime Charlotte Shores resident Nancy Boyd. The snook was removed from the water just long enough to remove the hook get its picture with one happy boy and safely returned to fight another day.

Again this week, Spanish mackerel kept anglers busy with bent rods and screaming drags, chances were good to hook up with one just about anywhere in our local waters. hey were caught by anglers targeting trout in Matlacha Pass on the flats, they were caught from the Matlacha Bridge, the Bokeelia and Sanibel piers and by wade fishermen working the spoil Islands on the Sanibel Causeway and the beach at Cayo Costa and Captiva.

However if you really wanted action then Charlotte Harbor, the Sound and the Passes were the place to look. These areas held good numbers of fish running from two to five pounds.

In the Gulf Passes, including Redfish, Captiva and Boca Grande the key was to look for birds, mainly gulls and terns swooping down to the water to scoop up the remains of small bait fish the macks are foraging on. Silver or gold spoons and white Hooked-Up jigs with a long cast and swift retrieve was a good method to cover area to locate the fast moving fish.

In the Harbor and Sound, the macks are working on channel edges and bar drop-offs, look for the transition of sand to a sand and grass mottled bottom and anchor or drift the area. If you locate birds working these areas, that’s even better.

The water clarity is good enough on most days that you should be able to differentiate between sand and grass bottom. If you don’t have polarized sunglasses, go get some – they cut the glare and make it a whole lot easier to read what’s under the surface. Remember the grass is going to show up dark and the sand bottom a lighter color, look for a mixture or a transition from one to the other in five to 10 feet of water and you should find fish.

Other fish are also holding in these areas with the mackerel. Trout catches are improving each day and ladyfish can become a real nuisance. Bluefish, small sharks and a couple cobia were also hooked this past week.

Trout fishing was good but not great. The reports I received were of a few keeper fish here and there and others just under the 15-inch minimum. These fish were caught in the same depths as the mackerel and larger trout up to 24 inches were caught in potholes and around oyster bars.

On my boat, it was a mirror of last week – we did not catch big numbers of trout but all were quality fish, with the largest measuring 24 inches and a couple others almost there. While we fished live shiners for our trout, others reported catching theirs on shrimp or Berkley Gulp shrimp under popping corks and top water lures.

Only heard of a couple reports on redfish, both coming from the southeastern corner of the Sound. Fish from 19 to 25 inches were caught on live shrimp under the mangroves towards the top of the tide. We only caught one redfish this past week and other long time guides also reported a difficult time catching reds. Red fishing should improve with the strong tides and warming water this week.

Early in the week before the winds picked up, a few keeper gag grouper and a bunch of shorts were reported over ledges and hard bottom in 40 to 65 feet of water southwest of Captiva. Mangrove snapper up to four pounds were also caught. Reports of king mackerel, cobia and all the Spanish mackerel you want also came from the Gulf waters.

This past week, I fished with families and kids off from school on spring break just about every day. We looked for action and the mackerel and big trout sure made for some fun fishing and happy faces. I kept the calendar open for one day to get my kids and their friends out for a day of fishing and beaching before they hit the books again. We had a blast – they caught trout, mackerel, ladyfish and flounder before it was time to hit the beach at Cayo Costa for the afternoon. Later, when it was time to head home with everyone hungry and a half dozen big trout in the boat, we wanted fish for dinner… but who wanted to cook them? With the Lazy Flamingo restaurant in Bokeelia between us and home, that was an easy decision. We cleaned the fish, handed Eric at the Flamingo the bag of filets where he and his staff delivered us another great meal. I can’t tell you what a treat it is to relax while they prepare your fresh fish dinner for you.

Then to top it all off, when we got back to the dock after unloading the boat and dumping out the bait, 13-year-old Clayton Boyd took the last shiner, put it on a hook, threw it in the canal and was hooked up within 30 seconds. To my surprise, a big snook was going mad on the other end of his line, giving his all as was Clayton. Somehow Clayton kept the fish from breaking off on several docks and pilings and a healthy 30-inch snook was subdued. After a quick picture, the fish was safely released and Clayton left for home one happy boy. What a great day!

If you have a fishing report or for charter information, please contact us by phone at 239-283-7960, online at www.fishpineisland.com or by e-mail at gcl2fish@live.com. Have a safe week and good fishin’.