Fishing is as hot as the summer temperatures
With summer heating up, fishing both inshore and offshore continues to move along with reports of good fish and action.
Limits of gag grouper were reported as close as six miles off the beaches, out to 120 feet, and many areas in between. Trolling deep-diving lures or dropping hand-sized pinfish over limestone ledges took gags to 25 inches a short distance off beaches and well in sight of the Sanibel, Captiva and Cayo Costa islands. Limits of gags up to 28 inches were caught in 70 to 80-foot depths west of Sanibel with large pinfish, sand perch and small blue runners the top baits.
Several nice red grouper up to 24 inches were also taken with the gags. Farther west in depths from 100 to 120 feet gags up to 32 inches were boated plus big red grouper and mangrove snapper with a few snapper over 20 inches. Baits included pinfish, large thread herring, Spanish sardines and large jig/squid or jig/mullet strip combos.
The well-marked, near-shore, man-made reefs are giving up good action for smaller boats that want to stay closer to land. A little bit of everything, including pompano, mackerel, sharks, ladyfish, grouper, trout, snapper and jacks, were biting on a variety of baits that included shrimp-tipped jigs, pilchards and small pinfish dropped to the bottom with a small weight, and cut bait including pinfish, mullet and thread herrings. The best bet was to anchor up current of the structure and let your baits drop back with the tide. To get the action going quicker, a block of frozen chum hung over the side in a chum bag was a good idea.
Limits of tasty mangrove snapper were pretty easy to come by inshore with fish averaging in size from 10 to 13 inches. The best bet is to fish oyster bars, island points or structure with a good tide flow. Just like offshore, snapper easily respond to chum inshore – just beware, catfish do as well. I fished live shrimp, pilchards and small pinfish and hands down the best bite was on shrimp. Just make sure and use a smaller hook and light leader.
Fishing over deeper grass bottom mixed with sandy areas gave steady action with trout, most undersized, but a few keepers to 19 inches; Spanish mackerel; ladyfish; undersizes cob; and bluefish. The best bite was morning to early afternoon before the inshore waters heat up. Look for the cleanest or clearest water possible, wear Polaroid glasses and locate water that you can distinguish the sandy areas from grass in 5 to 8-foot depths.
Over the higher portions of the tide, redfish were reported under the shade of the mangroves around Cabbage Key and islands to the north in the Sound, and north of the power lines in the western side of Matlacha Pass.
The reds are measuring anywhere from 17 to 30 inches and the best baits included dead shrimp, cut pinfish, ladyfish and mullet. Make sure to get the bait as far under the mangroves as possible and let it soak on bottom. The better bite was the last hour of the incoming and first of the falling.
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Have a safe week and good fishin’.