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On the Water: Big trout inshore and grouper offshore

By Staff | Apr 13, 2016

The first week of April rolled through with warm weather that included windy days and days with calm seas. Anglers had good opportunities for inshore fishing and a few good days offshore.

Limits of red grouper were taken in depths from 60 to 100 feet – the deeper the water the larger the fish. Live bait, including pinfish, thread herring, blue runners and cigar minnows worked well, and large jigs tipped with cut pinfish, bonito and squid also produced. Large lane and mangrove snapper were also mixed with grouper in 60 to 70-foot depths southwest of the Sanibel Lighthouse.

Anglers fishing near-shore reefs in 20 to 35-foots depths hooked up with a mix of fish including sheepshead, snapper, Spanish mackerel, sharks and undersized grouper. Bonito up to 20 pounds were also caught from the same depths as they were sighted busting schools of bait fish on the surface. A few tripletail were also reported – keep an eye open for fish hanging under any type floating debris. Also, large concentrations of tarpon were sighted between Sanibel’s Knapp’s Point and Fort Myers Beach.

Inshore water temperatures remained above 70 degrees, improving the bite. At times, early in the week a very slow tide stalled the bite, but when the water was moving fishing was good. This is the time for some of the largest trout of the year, with fish measuring 24 inches fairly common. The largest trout were taken on live bait, including pilchards, herring, pinfish and finger mullet, and also on cut pinfish or ladyfish. Calm mornings also yielded some dandy fish from anglers working top-water lures or flies over the shallow flats. School-size trout in the 15 to 20-inch “keeper” range were reported over the flats off Rocky Channel in Pine Island Sound, further south near Red Light Shoals, off the power lines near “Ding” Darling and between Cabbage Key and Captiva Pass.

Some anglers are reporting good catches of redfish while others have struggled. Reports from the eastern side of Pine Island Sound are encouraging with small schools of fish throughout the islands and keys. Most are in the upper slot to oversized, with cut bait and artificials working best. Similar size reds were also found up Charlotte Harbor on the eastern shore between Burnt Store Marina and Alligator Creek.

Snook fishing was consistent – the smaller fish were very active, and a few lucky anglers hooked into bigger fish. The best action came during the afternoon high water, fishing live baits that included pinfish, pigfish, pilchards and herring. Look for snook hanging near structure inside the gulf passes, oyster bars between St. James and Cape Coral, and sand holes or island points throughout Pine Island Sound. Nighttime anglers will score with some nice snook from the Matlacha Bridge and Sanibel Pier.

Snapper fishing was good for bottom fishermen drifting the passes with mangrove snapper to 15 inches reported. The best bait was live shrimp or small pinfish. Several good sized catch-and-release gag grouper were also caught. Also inshore, Spanish mackerel and bluefish were caught over 5 to 8-foot grass flats in Charlotte Harbor and the sound, plus we are beginning to hear reports of tarpon and shark sightings in the sound and harbor.

We finally completed a week where the water temperature stayed right at or above 70 degrees the whole time and what a difference it makes. Along with the temperature, fishing reports were on the rise each day and this should continue into the month. It’s a great time to get out there and take advantage of the great weather and good fishin’

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’.