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On the Water: A good week — tarpon inshore and grouper offshore

By Staff | May 21, 2019

PHOTO PROVIDED Dave Russell and crew enjoyed a great day offshore and filled the box with red grouper and a mix of other fish. They were fishing with Capt. Sean McQuade west of Captiva Pass.

Despite a lingering wind that persisted most of the week, offshore and tarpon anglers made the best of it and recorded consistent catches. The south wind, accompanied with an incoming tide, often worked in favor of inshore anglers targeting snook and other species.

With tarpon season in full swing, anglers report hooking up across Pine Island Sound, off the beaches and the Gulf passes. In the Sound, fish were located just off the channel from Redfish Pass north to Useppa Island. Best baits included live pinfish, thread herring and crabs, plus cut mullet and ladyfish. Off the beaches the fish were generally located within a few hundred yards of land. Flies, live thread herring and crabs were the preferred baits. In the passes, fish were hooked on thread herring, squirrel fish and crabs, with crabs getting the action on the late afternoon tide flush.

Large schools of Spanish mackerel were found around Boca Grande Pass and from the bell buoys outside the pass south to Helen’s Reef. In Boca Grande Pass, at times mackerel were busting up small baits all around the boats targeting tarpon. Look for birds and surface activity. A small silver spoon or jig with some mylar or flash will get you all the action you want. Spanish mackerel were also reported from the Power Pole Reef offshore, west of the fish shacks inshore, and north of Bokeelia’s Shell Cut. Inshore, bluefish were often caught with the mackerel.

Offshore, despite some windy days, the fishing was good. Boats scored with limits of red grouper in depths around a hundred feet west of Boca Grande and Captiva passes. Grouper were caught on live and cut bait, plus heavy jigs baited with squid strips. The usual mix of snapper, grunts, and porgy were also boxed.

Hard bottom and ledges closer to land in 40 to 50-foot depths are holding a variety of fish. Cut bait worked for grunts, mangrove and lane snapper, plus undersized red grouper. Often the difficult part was keeping tomtate or spot tail grunts off the baits long enough for something better. It’s been a slow process but it’s good seeing these near-shore areas coming back to life.

Capt. Bill Russell

Catch-and-release snook continued strong again over the week with several fish reported over 40 inches. Snook were found north of Boca Grande Pass around docks and bar edges, around Redfish Pass, and the eastern shore of Charlotte Harbor. Baits included DOA Bait Busters, plus live thread herring, pilchards and hand-picked shrimp.

Inshore anglers looking to bring home some dinner found mangrove snapper up to 15 inches in and around the Gulf passes, and under the mangroves on the higher stages of tide on the western side of Pine Island Sound. Live shrimp, small pinfish and cut bait worked best on a 1/0 or smaller hook.

It’s starting to feel like summer on the water, it’s getting hot, a few days the love bugs were almost unbearable, and afternoon thunderstorms are worth keeping an eye on and paying attention to. Keep in mind, snook, redfish and seatrout are closed season for harvest. Have fun while catching and releasing them, just handle them as little as possible. If fishing live or natural bait, use a circle hook to prevent unnecessary and potentially fatal damage.

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.