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On the Water: It was a tough week out on the water

By Staff | Feb 17, 2016

So far the month hasn’t exactly kicked off in favor of the outdoorsman. The trend of record rainfall has continued along with very strong wind and some chilly temperatures. If that isn’t enough, we are dealing with reports of red tide along the coast and freshwater releases from Lake Okeechobee that always have a negative effect on our local waterways and estuaries. Given the conditions, reports were few and far between.

The best fishing reports came from offshore anglers over the few days weather cooperated. Bottom fishing turned up respectable catches of sheepshead, snapper (mangrove and lane), plus porgies and grunts. Most fish were found in 70 or less feet of water and the better sheepshead action was in 25 to 40-foot depths. Live shrimp and shrimp/jig combinations were the favored baits.

Sheepshead were also caught around the old phosphate dock inside Boca Grande Pass and the western side of Pine Island Sound.

With all the wind, rain and freshwater outflow, if you want to catch trout, search for the cleanest water. Generally Pine Island Sound has better water quality due to its close proximity to the Gulf and good water exchange. Sea trout to 21 inches were reported in the northern sound near Part Island and south of Cabbage Key. Drifting 4 to 6-foot grass flats while working live shrimp under popping corks or white (pearl) and chartreuse soft plastics worked best.

Before the recent release, Lake Okeechobee water levels stood at about 16 feet above sea level. That’s over the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers mandated maximum of 15.5 feet (the lake is generally kept between 12.5 and 15.5 ft.) and the only way to drain the lake is to send water down the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie rivers. Recent release amounts down the Caloosahatchee River are 70,000 gallons per second. That’s a lot of fresh water and, yes it can be very damaging to marine life.

Water releases from Lake Okeechobee have been going on for a long time, and a solution has been promised for just as long. Not going to get into the politics, but if everyone would get involved and voice their concerns maybe a solution could be reached sooner rather than later.

As far as fishing, we are lucky to have a very large area and bodies of water to fish, we just need the weather to cooperate. No doubt there will be areas where the fish have vacated due to conditions, but there will also be areas fish have relocated and in good numbers. It’s up to you to get out there and find them and hope we can put together a week or so with no rain. As one person told me the other day, “I would rather fish all day and not catch a thing than try to drive our roads and sit in traffic right now.” I would have to agree.

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’.