On the Water: Warm weather brings good fishing
April kicked off with a front dropping down early in the week bringing a few windy days and scattered showers. As we moved closer to the weekend, we were back to sunny days with light wind. Offshore fishing was good for grouper and snapper, and a good mix of fish were caught inshore.
Many boats found their limits of red grouper in the Gulf of Mexico while targeting depths from 90 to 120 feet. Grouper, with a good number over 30 inches, were hooked while dropping live squirrel and pinfish or dead squid and sardines. Hard bottom and ledges over the same depths also yielded mangrove snapper to 5 pounds, plus lane and yellowtail snapper, plus a few porgy.
Trolling silver spoons around bait pods in depths from 40 to 60 feet, several boats found good action on Spanish mackerel, plus a few king fish or king mackerel. Barracuda and sharks were also reported around the bait schools.
Once the wind settled down, tarpon sightings were on the rise both inshore and offshore. Tarpon in good numbers were sighted a few miles off the beach from Sanibel’s Knapp’s Point south to Bonita Beach. In and around the Gulf passes, tarpon were reported around the C-span of the Sanibel Causeway, plus Redfish and Boca Grande passes. With very clear waters inshore, it was often possibly for anglers to sight several dozen or more tarpon together in Pine Island Sound and Charlotte Harbor. More often than not, it was extremely difficult if not impossible to get one to take a bait, however their appetite should improve in the coming days as our waters continue to warm.
Spanish mackerel and ladyfish were commonly found together inside or just outside the Gulf passes and over grass flats just off the intracoastal waterway in Pine Island Sound. At times they provided non-stop action for anglers tossing small silver spoons, flashy lures and live baitfish. Sharks averaging in size from 3 to 5 feet were also in good numbers. A chunk of fresh ladyfish is a sure bet to get a shark’s attention.
Catch-and-release snook fishing continued strong throughout the inshore waters and around the Gulf passes. For live bait, pilchards, herring, pinfish and large shrimp were top baits, with Z-Man Jerk Shads and MirrOdines working well for the artificial guys. Snook were reported across both sides of Pine Island Sound, Blind and Redfish passes, north Matlacha Pass, and the eastern wall of Charlotte Harbor. From shore, snook were hooked from the Matlacha Drawbridge, plus the Bokeelia and Sanibel fishing piers. All snook remain closed season and are catch and release only.
Spotted sea trout were caught in Matlacha Pass, the eastern side of Pine Island Sound and in Charlotte Harbor. Fish ranged in size from 13 to 24 inches, with a decent number reported in the 15 to 17-inch class. Many of the larger fish were hooked off shorelines and oyster bars, while better numbers of smaller fish up to 18 inches were caught over bottom with a grass/sand mix in 3 to 7-foot depths. Best baits included live pinfish, shrimp, pilchards and DOA shad tails or Vudu shrimp.
Most redfish caught were hooked while fishing the same area for snook. Fish up to 32 inches were caught from northeast Pine Island Sound and up the eastern side of Charlotte Harbor. Fish reported took either live or dead bait, including shrimp, pilchards, pinfish or cut herring and ladyfish. Redfish are also out of season and strictly catch and release only.
Give us one solid week of a consistent weather and watch what happens. For the past month, just as the fish and bait begin to get into a pattern, our weekly front drops down and we hit the reset button. Tarpon are here in good numbers with reinforcements arriving daily, plus schools of bait are here with more on the way. We just need a string of good weather for some great April fishing.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.