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On the Water: Fish early or late to beat the Florida heat

By Staff | Jul 1, 2015

Catch-and-release snook fishing is good through the summer months, but it’s important to make the fight as short as possible, support the larger fish properly, snap a quick picture and get the fish back in the water as fast as possible. That’s just what Jim C. from Sanibel did with this 33-inch fish to ensure a healthy release. Jim was fishing Charlotte Harbors eastern side with Capt. Bill Russell. PHOTO PROVIDED

Again this week, and typical for summer, fishing reports were all over the place. Reports varied from great to mediocre to not so good. One thing all agreed on, while fishing was pleasant early and late in the day, it was often very hot during the mid-day hours.

Most of the week, bright skies and calm seas made offshore runs a breeze for boats of all sizes. In fishing depths between 65 and 85 feet, red grouper to 12 pounds were caught with limits coming easy at times. Favored baits included live pinfish, white nylon jigs fished with a mullet strip and Diamond jigs. Fishing lighter tackle over the same bottom yielded a mix of snapper, porgies and grunts. Spanish mackerel schools were located in the 40 to 50-foot range as they were often spotted feeding on large schools of small bait fish. Large numbers of sharks were reported around the mackerel schools with most averaging from 4 to 6 feet.

Most of the tarpon action continued just off the beaches and around the passes. Early mornings found tarpon pods west of Boca Grande Pass and a mile or less from the beach in either direction. Top baits included small live crabs, thread herring and squirrel fish. Further south, tarpon were hooked on cut bait fished on the bottom north of Captiva Pass and south of Redfish Pass a short distance off the beach. A few anglers casting crabs to tarpon were pleasantly surprised when cobia to 38 inches crashed the party and inhaled the crabs intended for tarpon.

Catch-and-release snook action was good with the best bite coming early to mid-morning and then in the late afternoon. Snook to 38 inches were released from areas inside Captiva and Redfish passes, and fish to 40 inches were hooked along shorelines at the mouth of the Caloosahatchee River. Smaller fish often gave steady action from “Ding” Darling Wildlife Refuge to Blind Pass, along the beaches of Sanibel and Cayo Costa State Park, just outside Bull and Turtle bays, and along Charlotte Harbors eastern shore near Burnt Store Marina. Baits included live pinfish, pigfish (grunts), pilchards and herrings, plus artificial including DOA Airheads, YoZuri Crystal Minnows and white deceiver flies.

Redfish were also caught with snook in a few of the previous mentioned areas including Bull and Turtle bays, outside “Ding” Darling and the mouth of the Caloosahatchee River. Tailing reds were located over shallow grass flats very early and late on days that coordinated with low tides during this time. A few areas worth noting included flats off the islands between St. James City and Punta Rassa, and south Matlacha Pass near the power lines.

Mangrove snapper to 15 inches were caught inshore around the mouth of the river, throughout Matlacha Pass and Pine Island Sound, and in Captiva and Boca Grande passes. Bait of choice included live shrimp, pilchards, small pinfish and a variety of cut baits.

Fishing around showering schools of bait fish resulted in hook-ups with Spanish mackerel, trout, bluefish and sharks in areas off the channel in north Matlacha Pass, between St. James City and the Sanibel Causeway and in Charlotte Harbor off Bokeelia.

While bright skies and light winds make for beautiful fishing conditions, it also gets down right hot by late morning. It’s easy to get caught in the moment while chasing tarpon or catching snook and lose track of time. That’s not a bad thing as long as you make an effort to continuously hydrate with water – drink and drink often. Always bring way more water than you think you will need and make sure all aboard drink it, especially the youngsters. Becoming dehydrated in the heat of the day can become very serious, but it’s very easy to avoid, just bring water and drink it!

If you have a fishing report or for charter information, please contact us at 238-283-7960, on the Web at www.fishpineisland.com or email: gcl2fish@live.com

Have a safe week and good fishin’.