ON THE WATER: Time for some ‘skinny’ water fishing
Low tides over the past week brought plenty of shallow water opportunities inshore. If you enjoy low water fishing, this is the time of year to get excited about.
Although trout season is closed until next year, there are still plenty being caught and large ones by anglers targeting redfish. Trout over 20 inches were frequent hook-ups in sand potholes over the lower stages of the tides on the skinny grassflats. Floating twitch baits, Gulp shrimp and live shrimp all caught the trout’s attention as well as a few large flounder from the sand holes. Remember, trout are catch and release only; handle them with care and quickly get them back to the water.
When you think of skinny (shallow) water, the first fish that comes to mind around Southwest Florida is redfish. This is a favorite time of year for anglers that like it skinny — the daytime tides are low allowing for plenty of opportunities. If you fish from a canoe, kayak, shallow water skiff or leave the boat in deeper water and take off on foot, it’s time to hit the shallows for redfish.
In northern Pine Island Sound, reds were caught in potholes surrounded by extremely shallow turtle grassflats by anglers wade fishing. While Gulp shrimp hooked a few, the best bite came on cut baits including ladyfish steaks and mullet strips. Potholes with mullet activity gave the best redfish opportunities. Redfish were also reported on the east side of Buck Key near Blind Pass in potholes and off oyster bars.
In Matlacha Pass, kayak anglers also took advantage of the low water and scored with both waking and tailing reds. Live shrimp rigged weedless and jerk shad in glow color took fish up to 25 inches in Indian Fields at the north end and along the eastern shoreline north of McCardles Island south of the bridge. Trout and a few nice flounder were also caught with the reds.
It’s shaping up to be a decent winter for flounder. Without really targeting them, most anglers are putting a couple in the cooler daily while fishing for other species. They have been caught in the shallows along the edges of potholes, on the deeper grassflats over sandy areas, around docks and oyster bars and on the beaches. They come unbuttoned from the hook really easy, if you have a good one on; get that landing net under him before lifting out of the water. They are one of the best eating fish in our waters and their numbers appear on the rise.
After last week’s cold front and strong winds, the waters have settled back down allowing for Spanish mackerel to group back up in the Sound, Charlotte Harbor and the Gulf waters. In the Sound, large mackerel were rocketing from the water chasing baitfish between Captiva Rocks and Captiva Pass just off the channel. In the Harbor, macks were working bait schools on the western side of Bokeelia Shoals between Bokeelia and the northern end of Cayo Costa. In the Gulf, feeding fish were likely to show up anywhere. Watching for birds working the water’s surface was the key to locating the moving fish. As has been the case for the past month or so, the ladyfish continue to be so thick that it’s often difficult to get bait past them to a mackerel.
The larger sheepsheads are beginning to show up inshore — they move in from the Gulf as the water cools down and from what I have seen, it could be a really good year for sheepshead fishing.
We fished a couple oyster bars on low water and boated several fish up to three pounds. Generally, I don’t like to target sheepies until the water cools down enough to push the pinfish and other bait stealers from our waters, but I spotted more large fish than usual, so we gave it a try. While we caught nice sheepsheads, the bait stealers are still here in full force. If you are thinking about targeting the stripped bandits with shrimp, make sure you take a lot — you will need them!
Daytime low tides will be with us for the next several months. This is a great time to get out and explore the shallows. With the extreme low tides, bright sunny days and gin clear water, you will see fish in places you never thought possible. Now all you have to do is catch them!
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’.