Fishing good ahead of front
Over the past week anglers fished a myriad of conditions that included overcast days mixed with a little rain, chilly mornings, some very windy days, and a few days with absolutely picture perfect weather.
Those that were lucky enough to plan offshore trips on the perfect weather days were rewarded with good catches of red grouper and a variety of other fish. Red grouper to 15 pounds were pulled from depths ranging from 70 to 100 feet. Best baits included live squirrel and pinfish, mullet, sardines, and squid as cut bait, plus heavy white buck tail jigs tipped with a strip of mullet or squid. Closer to shore, in depths from 30 to 40 feet, anchoring up tide of structure and setting up a chum slick worked for a mix of Spanish mackerel, grunts, snapper, triggerfish, blacktip sharks, and a few grouper. Live shrimp on a white buck tail worked best for the smaller fish and live pinfish or pinfish strips fished near bottom worked best for the larger fish. Also not too far off the beach near Sanibel, a few king mackerel were caught while trolling, plus other anglers report kings cutting them off while fighting smaller fish.
In and near the Gulf Passes, with weather cooperating, anglers are targeting sheepsheads, snapper, and pompano. As usual with sheepsheads, the best catches came while fishing around some type of structure near the Passes with a light rig, including a small #1 hook and shrimp or a shrimp/jig combo. Snapper fishing was best in the Passes drifting during the slower and slack tides. Live shrimp either fished on a circle hook with 1 to 2 ounces of weight or live shrimp fished on a 1 to 2 ounce yellow or white jig worked well. The snapper are averaging 9 to 12 inches, but with a little effort it’s possible to go home with a limit. Pompano catches were reported off the Gulf side of the A span of the Sanibel causeway, around Blind Pass, and along the shorelines of Redfish and Captiva Passes. Most pompano were targeted while slowly bouncing bottom with pink, yellow, or white pompano jigs tipped with shrimp.
Inshore, trout fishing was sporadic, one day it would be a good bite then the same area the next day often resulted in nothing. Relocating and hunting was the key for success throughout Pine Island Sound. A more consistent bite seems to be coming from the south end of the Sound, where trout to 22 inches were caught over flats north of the power lines on either side of the Sound, between the channel and Buck Key, and near the Flamingo Bay channel. Further north, trout to 19 inches were caught over flats west of Captiva Rocks and west of Burgess Island. Live shrimp or Berkley Gulp Shrimp under popping or rattling corks worked best, with a variety of other soft plastic also working well. Ladyfish, plus an occasional mackerel or pompano were also in the mix.
Redfish to 28 inches were caught on the morning low tides by sight fishing anglers in north Pine Island Sound. Flies, live shrimp, and cut ladyfish worked best. A few big trout to 24 inches were also caught and released over the shallow flats.
Strong winds can really stir up and muddy the inshore waters during the winter months. This was the case after last weekend’s blow; many areas were just unfishable following the front. It often pays to keep moving until you find clean” fishy” water, unless you are OK with just catching catfish. The good thing though, generally a few days after a strong cool front, the water becomes surprisingly clear. Look for the “fishy” water.
If you have a fishing report or for charter information, please contact us at 239-283-7960, www.fishpineisland.com or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Have a safe week and good fishin’.