ON THE WATER: Look for grouper, mackerel to kick off a new month
Trout season wound down in Southwest Florida with anglers reporting mixed results. Seems trout catches were good, but while some found plenty of keeper size fish others found despite steady action keeper fish were hard to find. Offshore, reports continue to trickle in of gag grouper trolled up not too far from shore and a few tripletail showing up under the crab pot buoys.
The last week of trout season produced specks all around Pine Island in areas including both north and south Matlacha Pass, on about every grassflat in Pine Island Sound and near the Sanibel Causeway over the flats on either side of the span.
One common complaint anglers shared from all the areas was the never ending harassment from ladyfish. They were so thick at times it was nearly impossible for a trout to stand a chance at getting to the bait first. The larger trout were caught in potholes over the midday super low tides, fish up to 24 inches were taken on both live and artificial baits. The smaller holes surrounded by shallower grassflats had far less ladyfish to deal with than the larger open water areas. A few holes also yielded a surprise redfish.
Spanish mackerel action continued strong again this week throughout Charlotte Harbor, the Sound and off the beaches. Hot action was reported off the Bokeelia Bar between Boca Grande Pass and Bokeelia, just outside the northern entrance to Pelican Bay, Rocky Channel and Captiva Rocks in the mid Sound and near the power lines at the south end.
Also along the beaches and on the gulf side of the Sanibel Causeway over the deeper grassflats between the B & C spans. All these areas also held their share of ladyfish, and some really big ones, bluefish and small sharks.
Putting in the time has resulted in some good gag grouper catches on the calmer days in the gulf. Gags up to 30 inches were caught while trolling depths from 25 to 40 feet. Deep diving lures in bright colors like yellow or pink worked best trolled as close to the bottom as possible.
Anglers lucky enough to have ledges marked on their GPS at these depths also put some nice grouper in the fish box while bouncing live pinfish over the ledges. Watch for tripletail, several large fish were reported under the stone crab trap buoys. It’s a good idea to have a few live shrimp handy if the opportunity arises, as they seldom turn down a shrimp and tripletail has to be one of the best tasting fish in the water.
With trout season closed for two months and snook season closed for who really knows how long, what’s left inshore to catch for a fresh dinner? Of course redfish, but they have been really hit and miss; I wouldn’t want to count on catching one for dinner. Spanish mackerel, now this is a fish that is plentiful, usually hungry and good eating. Like many fish, they do not freeze well, but fresh they are one of my favorites, they should continue to remain plentiful until winter pushes all the baitfish south.
Gag grouper are another good possibility both inshore and, as mentioned, offshore. Flounder have been making a presence recently and pompano reports have really picked up over the last few weeks. Although trout season, the inshore anglers go to fish, is closed for a few months there is no reason why you can’t return to the dock with some fresh fish for dinner.
If you have a fishing story or for charter information, please contact us at 239-283-7960 or www.fishpineisland.com. Have a safe week and good fishin’.