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On the Water: It was a decent week on the water

By Staff | May 3, 2017

Despite east winds much of the week, fishing wasn’t to bad. The winds made it tough for offshore and tarpon anglers, but most inshore waters and just off the beaches were fishable.

Snook fishing was good if you weren’t too concerned about catching a “keeper’ or slot fish. Smaller snook, most in the 22 to 26-inch class, gave anglers good action throughout Pine Island Sound, Matlacha Pass and the beaches of Sanibel, Captiva and Cayo Costa. Double digit catches came while targeting mangrove shorelines, oyster bars and areas around the beaches and passes with structure. A few larger snook up to 36 inches were caught inside the gulf passes and potholes of island points in the Sound.

East winds over much of the week held back the afternoon high tides but the days it did come up, a few redfish were caught along mangrove shorelines. Fish to 26 inches were caught from Pelican Bay south to Buck Key along the eastern shore of the barrier islands, and across the Sound around islands and keys south of Pineland. Mangrove snapper to 13 inches were also caught while targeting reds with shrimp and small pinfish.

Sea trout were reported throughout the inshore waters with size variations from small ones under 10 inches to gators up to 26 inches. The larger trout are mainly feeding on oily baitfish, live pilchards, herring, pinfish or lookalike lures – the best bets for hooking the bigger trout. Many of the larger trout are egg laden with a very noticeable bloated bellies. It’s always best to quickly release these big girls and allow them to complete their spawning cycle. Many of the larger fish are caught while targeting snook while the smaller fish are scattered across grass flats in 3 to 6-foot depths. Trout to 18 inches were reported near marker 13 of St. James, east of Buck Key, south of Rocky Channel and the fish shacks, and off Bokeelia Shoals.

Tarpon and shark hook-ups continued off the beaches, in Pine Island Sound and Charlotte Harbor. Large schools of thread herring made their way inshore and along the beaches, often the tarpon weren’t too far away. Best baits included live thread herring free lined or under a float, fresh cut mullet and ladyfish. The fish are on the move so they may not be in the same area two days in a row. Blacktip, spinner and bull sharks were also hooked while targeting tarpon. Smaller blacktip, bonnet heads and sharp-nosed sharks were often hooked while targeting trout over grass flats.

Large Spanish mackerel were caught between the Sanibel Causeway and Lighthouse Point, inside Redfish and Captiva Passes and off Bokeelia Shoals. Trolling or drifting while casting silver spoons or drifting with live pilchards or shrimp was the best bet for hook-ups. Blue and ladyfish were also hooked along with an occasional shark.

Winds much of the week made it difficult to venture offshore for most boats. A few that made the trip found keeper-size red grouper in 70 to 90-foot depths, plus mangrove and lane snapper from the same depths and also in shallower depths from 35-50 feet.

I thought season was over but there sure were a lot of boats on the water last week. Generally after Easter we note a big slow down on the water but not last week. Maybe it was all the tournaments, maybe we’re just running a week or so behind. Traffic on the highways has decreased dramatically as season winds down, hopefully on the water is soon to follow.

If you have a fishing report or for charter information, please contact us at Gulf Coast Guide Service at 239-283-7960, on the Web at www.fishpineisland.com or email gcl2fish@live.com

Have a safe week and good fishin’.

As a native of Pine Island, Bill Russell has spent his entire life fishing and learning the waters surrounding Pine Island and as a professional fishing guide for the past 18 years.