homepage logo

On the Water: Fishing was good ahead of the rain

By Staff | May 23, 2018

PHOTO PROVIDED On his last day in Southwest Florida before heading north for the summer, Bill Valpie landed his first permit and a nice one. Bill was fishing with Capt. Bill Russell of Gulf Coast Guide Service in gulf waters off Sanibel Island.

Despite some windy days inshore, Gulf waters were often a different story as the wind wasn’t a factor once out on the water. Big red grouper with many over 30 inches were caught over hard bottom in depths from 75 to 110 feet. Mangrove, lane and vermilion snappers, along with grunts and large porgies were also boated from the same areas.

Fishing around public wrecks and reefs in the same depths yielded hard fighting fish including amberjack, barracuda, king mackerel, sharks and a couple cobia and blackfin tuna. Nearshore reefs within sight of land are holding good numbers of Spanish mackerel, a few king mackerel, big barracuda, sharks and cobia. Bottom fishing yielded a mixed bag of snapper, grouper and a couple big flounder.

The Spanish mackerel bite was often hot around the Gulf passes, the Sanibel Causeway and off the Sanibel Lighthouse. Working silver spoons with a fast retrieve was the top method while on the drift with freelining live pilchards or shrimp also working well.

Tarpon hook-ups were reported throughout Pine Island Sound, the beaches and around the Gulf passes. Some days cut bait was preferred, on others it was live crabs or herring, and at times they turned up their nose to any and all offerings. Plenty of sharks from 3 to 7 feet were hooked along with some big stingrays, mainly by anglers cut or dead bait fishing. Large numbers of tarpon are making their annual arrival into Boca Grande Pass.

For inshore anglers looking to bring home a fish dinner, spotted sea trout were the best thing going. Trout up to 20 inches were caught off the flats east of Buck Key and between Regla and McKeever Keys in lower Pine Island Sound. Further north, limits of keeper size fish were found around Useppa Island, north of Mondongo Island and off Bokeelia Shoals. In Matlacha Pass, a decent trout bite was reported in the northern Pass off the western side of the channel.

Bill Russell

Redfish catches were on the rise for many anglers after struggling for the past month or so. Most are running in singles or pairs as fish up to 28 inches took cut and live bait under mangrove shorelines and points throughout the eastern side of Pine Island Sound. On the lower stages of the tide, similar size fish were found along drop-offs and troughs around sand bars and shorelines along the eastern and western side of Charlotte Harbor. During the early morning hours, top water lures worked to fool the reds plus a few snook in these areas.

If your looking for action, many of the deeper grassy bottom areas in depths from 5 to 8 feet have a variety of fish including mackerel, bluefish, ladyfish, trout, small sharks and the possibility of a cobia. Often the bite starts slow, but once a bite starts it may get better and better. The incoming tide has provided the best action.

As I am writing this we are finally getting some much-needed rain. The forecast looks like it may rain much of this week, not great for getting on the water but we sure need it. After weeks and weeks of northeasterly winds and no rain, this may be just what we need to get us into our routine pre-summer weather pattern. If you get on the water this week, pay attention to weather and good luck.

If you have a fishing report or for charter information, please contact us at: Gulf Coast Guide Service, 239-283-7960 or visit “http://www.fishpineisland.com”>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.