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On the Water: Big fish are moving into area waters

By Staff | Apr 22, 2015

Lannie Smith of St. James City boated this big, oversized redfish with the help of 8-year-old Chad Parker spring breaking from Lake Orion, Mich. The big red was caught and released, along with snook and trout, while fishing Charlotte Harbor with Capt. Bill Russell. PHOTO PROVIDED

Inshore, anglers noted an increase in tarpon and blacktip shark hook-ups in Charlotte Harbor and Pine Island Sound. Early morning and calm seas gave good opportunities for sight casting a variety of flies, and for live baiters, large Atlantic thread herring for tarpon. Cut bait, live pinfish and ladyfish also did the trick for tarpon hook-ups throughout the day, as well as into the evening. A few tarpon are beginning to show in the Gulf passes early in the mornings and in late afternoon.

Blacktip sharks were a good bet to take a tarpon bait throughout the inshore waters, and smaller blacktips were hooked while targeting trout or mackerel over deeper grass flats. Sharp-nosed sharks were also abundant and a few hammerheads off the beaches. If you are targeting sharks, make sure and use at least a few feet of wire leader if your intention is to fight them to the boat, otherwise odds are good those razor-sharp teeth will part the line.

Tides always play a big role in fishing and the past week was no exception. Some days held some pretty slow tides for hours at a time at the bite reflected it. Those targeting snook and redfish, for the most part, reported the better fishing when the water was up and the afternoon sea breeze kicked in. Again this week, many of the redfish are running big in the 30 inch range and were caught feeding along shorelines and oyster bars where live pinfish and shiners worked best.

Catching a keeper size (28-33 inch) snook is about like winning the lottery – plenty of reports of good numbers of undersized fish and a few over, but not many in the slot. But that’s OK, these fish are still on the road to recovery from the cold winter fish kill in 2010, so the fewer that are taken home for dinner the better for the future fishery. Snook are an absolute blast to catch, don’t become obsessed with catching one for the table. Many anglers have adopted a catch-and-release-only snook philosophy, then go get some trout, redfish, snapper or something else for the table.

Trout fishing was good when the tide was moving. The bigger fish, with some pushing 26 inches, were caught while targeting snook along shorelines, sand holes and oyster bars. Most often it was pretty easy to catch you a couple healthy trout for dinner while having fun with snook. The large “gator” trout are full of eggs and have beat the odds to get this big. It’s a good idea to release these big girls and let those good genes spread to future generations, and take home a few smaller ones for the table. Many fishermen I know will not keep a trout over 20 inches, but that’s for you to decide, but when you catch a really large egg laden fish, just think of all the potential future trout that will never get a chance if you put her in the cooler.

Trout averaging 14 to 18 inches, with a few larger, were caught over 4 to 8-foot depths between Buck Key and Red Light Shoals, and south of Cabbage Key in the Sound, west of Sword’s Point in south Matlacha Pass and west of markers 9 and 11 off Bokeelia. Spanish mackerel were also caught with the trout in the Sound and of Bokeelia and inside Captiva Pass. One day the mackerel bite would be hot then the next day not so good.

Offshore, red grouper to 31 inches were boated from depths averaging 70 to 100 feet. Amberjack, barracuda and bull sharks were caught over wrecks from 40 to 110 feet, and king mackerel were plentiful over hard bottom, artificial reefs and wrecks from 30 to 70 feet. Snapper, including mangrove, yellowtail and lane, along with porgies and grunts, were taken on hard bottom and structure in depths from 30 to 70 feet, with live shrimp working best.

With another warm week behind us look for tarpon numbers to explode in the coming weeks. Our inshore and offshore waters are alive with large bait schools and you can bet the big fish will soon follow. If you want to tangle with a silver king, get ready, the time is here!

If you have a fishing report, or for charter information, please contact us at 239-283-7960, on the web at www.fishpineisland.com or email: gcl2-fish@live.com

Have a safe week and good fishin’.