On the Water: Weather dampens fishing in the area
Fishing wasn’t too bad early last week before the strong winds took over. A combination of strong winds, super low water and overcast, rainy days made for unpleasant and often unproductive fishing the later part of the week and the weekend.
Fishing was actually pretty good ahead of the weather for a variety of species. Gag grouper season shut down on Dec. 3, fish up to 27 inches were taken from inshore structure around Pine Island Sound and Charlotte Harbor. Baits of choice included hand-sized pinfish, grunts and casting over structure with large diving lures. Some of the inshore structure also held mangrove snapper up to 12 inches. Live shrimp or small baitfish, including pilchards, threadfin, and pinfish, worked best for the tasty snapper.
Both gag grouper and mangrove snapper also were caught in the Gulf from near-shore structure in 25 to 45 feet of water. Gags to 30 inches were hooked while trolling large diving lures over ledges as well as dropping live baits, including spot tails, pinfish and squirrel fish. Mangrove snapper to 17 inches were caught over structure – the best results came while anchoring up tide and deploying a chum bag. Baits included shrimp, pilchards, and small pinfish.
Fishing around reefs offshore also yielded hook-ups with king and Spanish mackerel, bull and blacktip sharks, cobia and large goliath grouper. Offshore reports all came in before the weather turned for the worse at mid-week.
Back inshore, trout were often found in good numbers but typical for this time of year, a large percentage is running slightly undersized. The best bet for trout action was to locate birds working bait schools over grassy bottom, often in open water near bar edges or drop-offs. With the warm weather, we still have large schools of bait fish, this is what the trout are keying on, best baits are live pilchards, threadfin and small pinfish or artificials that mimic the bait fish. Large schools or big ladyfish were common from the same areas as well as an occasional bluefish, jack crevalle, Spanish mackerel or shark.
Spanish mackerel were plentiful when located, but often on the move – there one day gone the next. Schooling macks were reported in north Matlacha Pass near Marker 76, in Charlotte Harbor due north of Bokeelia, Pine Island Sound east of Redfish Pass and near the Light House off Sanibel. Fish were caught while trolling silver spoons, at drift casting spoons and white nylon jigs and fishing live shrimp, pilchards, threadfins.
December is a time to start targeting sheepshead. Over the past week, sheepshead were reported from areas including docks and pilings around the Gulf passes, the Bokeelia and Sanibel piers, and along the beach of north Captiva. Shrimp was the favored bait. Flounder, pompano, snapper and whiting were also hooked from these areas.
Here we are heading into the second week of December and its still warm. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining, I absolutely do not like cold weather – at all. With the above-average water temperatures, bait fish are still around in good numbers as well as many fish that normally would have already moved south or taken refuge to warmer waters. If it remains warm it’s possible that we will still have a chance of catching many of the same fish species right through Christmas that we target in the warmer weather of fall and spring.
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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: email@example.com
Have a safe week and good fishin’.