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On the Water: Dealing with changing fishing conditions

By Staff | Jul 25, 2018

Capt. Bill Russell

The ability to overcome challenging or changing conditions on the water is a key factor to successful fishing. While you might have the perfect plan, all mapped out the day before your fishing trip, conditions can change quickly, the good angler learns how to adapt with the conditions.

This summer, South-west Florida has experienced both freshwater releases from Lake Okee-chobee and bouts of red tide along the coast. The water releases generally affect areas near or adjacent to the Caloosahatchee River the most, and red tide can occur anywhere. However, generally red tide is more dominant near the coastline. If your favorite fishing areas are affected, it may be necessary to hunt for some new or alternate locations to find the better water and hungry fish.

Weather plays a factor in our fishing, it’s not something we can control, but we can learn to use whatever conditions it throws at us to our advantage. It may be too windy to run offshore, however the inshore waters are often better in the summer with a little wind. Winds from the south or west, coupled with an incoming tide are great times to target inshore species.

Tides play a huge role in our fishing success and everyone’s not lucky enough to plan fishing trips around the optimal tides. On those days with little to no tide movement and no breeze to move the water, it can be a real struggle to entice a bite. During these tides, fishing around the Gulf passes and bridges or areas in the immediate vicinity can pay off big. The current is often way too strong to correctly fish these areas, but on the slow tide days you can target them and often with good results. This is a great time and place to catch some tasty mangrove snapper.

On a side note, if you are fishing live bait in the backwaters, keep a real close eye on your live well, often you will stop to fish an area with poor water quality over the summer months only to find all your bait turning belly up. I know how hard we often work to fill the well with bait, losing them in this matter is hard to swallow. If your bait isn’t looking good, get the boat moving to a different area, and quickly.

While it’s good to have an action plan for your day of fishing, it’s more important to learn to alter it for changing conditions. You might plan on tarpon fishing the beaches only to wake up to 15-knot westerly winds, or the area you planned on fishing inshore looks like a mud puddle that someone just mowed the grass over. When conditions change, keep an open mind, look at your options and adjust your plans accordingly.

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

Have a safe week and good fishin’.

As a native of Pine Island, Capt. 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.