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On the Water: Fishing ahead of the cool down

By Staff | Dec 20, 2017

After weeks and weeks of uninterrupted mild weather, the first real cold front of the season arrived in Southwest Florida over the weekend. Coming off the super moon, fishing reports varied from day to day, however the best bite was good just ahead of the approaching front.

Inshore, sea trout reports were good from areas including south Matlacha Pass, southern Pine Island Sound between Red Light Shoals and Regla Island, and further to the north in the Sound around Cabbage Key. Trout varied a lot in size; some areas yielded mostly undersized fish while other locations held fish up to 24 inches. Most fish were caught while targeting grassy bottom in 3 to 4-foot depths or casting around oyster bars. Live pilchards, shrimp, small pinfish, gold spoons and Mirrolure She Pup. Large schools of small jack crevalle were also in the same areas. While they are a blast to catch, at times they were so aggressive it was hard to get a bait past them for trout.

The big moon brought some extreme low tides that often limited targeting redfish to pot holes or sand depressions or stalking fish either tailing or waking over the extreme shallows. A few fish from 19 to 25 inches were hooked during the low water south of Pineland Marina in the Sound and also near Punta Rassa around Fishermen’s Key. Baits included cut ladyfish, hand-picked shrimp, gold spoons and various fly patterns.

Snook season is closed, but with the water temperature in the mid-70s the bite was good ahead of the front. Snook up to 35 inches were caught and released throughout the Sound, Matlacha Pass and the perimeter of Charlotte Harbor. Good snook action was also reported around creek mouths in the “Ding” Darling Wildlife Refuge and inside Blind Pass.

Bouncing small shrimp on jig heads around the Sanibel Causeway and Gulf passes and near structure worked for a mix of sheepshead, flounder, pompano and a few black drum. This type fishing will only get better as the water cools.

Last week gave some good calm and sunny days for the offshore boats. Those running a long distance to depths from 130 to 150 feet boxed red grouper to 20 pounds, plus caught and released a lot of American red snapper, as they are out of season.

Anchoring and chumming over structure west of Sanibel in depths from 90 to 125 feet worked for good action and limits of yellowtail snapper, plus some nice mangrove snapper. In shallower water around the 60-foot mark, bottom fishermen boxed a mix of lane snapper, porgy, grunts and a few nice king mackerel, plus lots of undersized grouper. Squid and shrimp were the favored baits, pilchards also worked well.

A few gag grouper to 28 inches plus mangrove snapper to 16 inches were caught over ledges in 30 to 50-foot depths. Hand-sized live pinfish worked best for the grouper while shrimp and pilchards were the ticket for snapper. Just like most fishing reports over the week, the bite varied from day to day.

No doubt the water temperature, at least inshore, will drop 10 degrees or more following the cool down. For some fish the bite will slow down while others it will heat up. The next couple months will give us our best sheepshead fishing of the year and hopefully the offshore guys will find the larger fish moving closer to shore as temperatures drop.

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. Holiday Gift Certificates are available!

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.