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On the Water: Good start to October

By Staff | Oct 17, 2018

PHOTO PROVIDED With rain water flushing from creeks and rivers, gar fish (a fresh water species) aren’t an uncommon catch in Charlotte Harbor at the end of rainy season. This gar fish was caught along with sea trout, mangrove snapper, Spanish mackerel, and a cobia from the same spot in about a fifteen-minute time frame. It was caught and released just east of Bokeelia on a charter with Captain Bill Russell.

Overall fishing and fishing conditions appear to be improving in many areas around the islands. Much of the week a brisk easterly breeze may have helped push red tide toxins off the coast and away from inshore waters.

Anglers fishing Pine Island Sound report that bait is plentiful, and fishing was good. A few boats even caught grand slams consisting of a tarpon, snook, trout, and redfish. While some areas of the Sound still suffer with water quality much of the area looks good with clean water and plenty of activity.

Snook were caught around the northern passes, plus islands and keys throughout the sound. Fish ranged from twenty up to near forty inches with the best baits including pinfish, pigfish, pilchards, large shrimp, and top water lures at first light. A few schools of large redfish were located off the eastern side of Pine Island Sound. Most of the schooling fish are averaging about twenty-eight to thirty-one inches and are inhaling just about anything in their path. On the higher water scattered redfish were hooked under the shade of the mangroves in the northern sound with cut mullet, pinfish, and shrimp working best. Don’t forget, snook and redfish are catch and release only.

Fishing clean water from mid to northern Pine Island Sound resulted in good trout action. Good numbers of fish averaging thirteen to sixteen inches were caught, plus larger trout up to 22 inches. Various baits worked well including shrimp and Berkley Gulps under a popping cork, plus a variety of soft jerk baits. Ladyfish, bluefish, and small sharks were also caught with the trout. Best areas were four to 6 feet with a grass bottom. Tarpon, with a few over a hundred pounds were hooked in areas near the gulf passes. Best bite was at sunrise as fish were active and rolling. Baits included live and cut mullet, plus large pinfish under a float.

Fishing remained steady across Matlacha Pass and Charlotte Harbor for another week. Working shorelines in the northern pass and the eastern side of the harbor yielded good action with snook and redfish. Large schooling redfish were also reported working along bars and shorelines around the harbor. Trout up to 19 inches were found off the north side of Bokeelia in three to seven-foot depths. Pompano, bluefish, and a few Spanish mackerel were also in the mix. The water in this area remains dark or tannin stained, and we are sighting and hooking a few big gar fish. This is normal after a wet summer as they are flushed out of fresh water creeks and rivers and into Charlotte Harbor and Matlacha Pass. Don’t be surprised if you hook one or notice a long goofy looking fish hanging around your boat.

Capt. Bill Russell

Just about everyone fishing is catching mangrove snapper and pretty good ones for inshore. Mangrove snapper may be are hardiest or smartest fish as most seemed to avoid the deadly outcome of red tide. Snapper up to fifteen inches were caught throughout Pine Island Sound, Charlotte Harbor, and Matlacha Pass. Many were caught in the same areas as snook, redfish, and trout. They were reported along mangrove shorelines, under docks, piers and bridges, and around oyster bars or about any other submerged structure with a good tide flow. While they will eat a variety of baits, live shrimp is best, but make sure to use a small hook and light leader.

From land, mangrove snapper and a host of other species including redfish, snook, trout, pompano, black drum, sharks, and jack crevalle were hooked from either the Matlacha Draw Bridge or the Bokeelia Fishing Pier.

Running offshore, boats reports dark water and not much fish until out to about seventy feet then the water clears. Wreck fishing in depths ninety feet and deeper is giving anglers tough battles with some big amberjacks, plus sharks and barracuda. Bottom fishing in depths around one hundred feet and deeper produced red grouper up to twenty-nine inches, plus big mangrove and lane snapper. Vermilion snapper and porgies rounded out the catch.

It appears our daily rain storms may finally be fading away. In the next few weeks we should notice a cool down and water temperatures will gradually drop. That’s a good combination that will continue to improve the water quality around the islands. In the meantime, its been pretty nice on the water, if you haven’t been out in a while, give it a go.

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, 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.