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On the Water: An up and down week of fishing

By Staff | May 27, 2015

Capt. Sean McQuade and Chris Zulman were spear fishing in 130 feet of water west of Redfish Pass when they came across this big grouper. The crab (black grouper) weighed 52 pounds and it took both divers to pull the grouper out from a ledge after it was hit.  PHOTO PROVIDED

With fishing, you just never know from day to day – some days the bite is good and others not so much.That’s kinda how it was much of the week, we would have a good day where everything was hungry, followed the next day with a difficult bite for no apparent reason.

Much of the past week tarpon fishing was inconsistent; they cooperated great on some days and were difficult on others. Fish were found off the beaches from Cayo Costa to the southern end of Sanibel; one day they were showing good, rolling and free-jumping, then the next day not much showing. No real pattern from day to day.

They are averaging from 70 to about 120 pounds, with larger fish in the mix. For bait, most anglers are using large Atlantic thread herrings, pinfish and crabs for live bait. Schools of bait have really made a push into our waters with large schools of herring showing in Charlotte Harbor, Matlacha Pass, Pine Island Sound and off the beaches. They are easy to locate on the calm days – look for schools on the surface (looks like rain on the water), and birds. If you don’t have a big, heavy, fast sinking cast net to catch them with, remember, small Sabiki rigs work great for catching threads and other desirable bait fish. Plus they live better and are friskier than those cast netted.

Tarpon were also reported in Charlotte Harbor near Boca Grande Pass, in the pass and west of the pass, with their location often depending on the tides. In Pine Island Sound, tarpon hook-ups were reported just of the main channel from Tarpon Bay north to Captiva Pass.

One fish that seemed to bite consistently over the week was sharks. Most are running in size from 3 to 6 feet, with some really big bulls and hammerheads hanging around tarpon schools. On days when the tarpon bite is off, a big blacktip or spinner shark can be a trip saver as they are an undervalued game fish that offers an extremely hard fight and an aerial display that falls just short of rivaling a tarpon. If you have some young ones that want to tangle with a shark, right now is a great time to hook them up.

Mangrove snapper are beginning to make a good showing inshore as fish to 15 inches were reported from the Caloosahatchee River, through the Sound, and Matlacha Pass. Also during the slower tide periods, limit of snapper were taken from Boca Grande and Captiva passes with live shrimp working best. Last summer the inshore snapper fishing was great and it looks like we are off to a good start for this summer.

Most anglers I have spoken with continue to scratch their heads wondering where the redfish are. Some were caught, but not in the numbers or consistency as years past. A few oversized fish were caught on live shiners along the eastern shore of Charlotte Harbor, reds between 22 and 26 inches were hooked on high water under the mangroves in mid-Pine Island Sound. In Matlacha Pass, tailers were reported on the morning or evening low tides, and fishing live shrimp around oyster bars in south Matlacha Pass turned up a few fish to 21 inches.

Snook are making a push to the beaches for the summer as shore-bound anglers report catch-and-release fishing on Sanibel between the lighthouse and Knapp’s Point. Snook were also reported on Sanibel’s Bowman’s Beach, upper Captiva, the gulf side of Cayo Costa and Charlotte Harbors eastern shore near Pirates Harbor.

Tarpon fishing should hit its peak over the next couple weeks, sharks are very abundant and summer catch-and-release snook fishing is heating up. For a tasty dinner, don’t overlook mangrove snapper as they are becoming plentiful and an easy target. Inshore snapper are easily assessable and offer some great eating.

If you have a fishing report or for charter information, contact us at 239-283-7960 on the web at www.fishpineisland.com or email: gcl2fish@live.com

Have a safe week and good fishin’