On the Water: Windy days leading up to the holiday weekend
Early in the week before the winds picked up, large schools of Spanish mackerel were common over the nearshore reefs within sight of land in state waters. A variety of other fish including mangrove snapper, king mackerel, cobia, permit, plus big sharks and goliath grouper were also sighted or hooked. Most of the reefs are public numbers available on local charts or online.
Catch-and-release snook fishing was reported from in and around the Gulf passes including Blind, Redfish and Captiva. Either anchoring or drifting along docks with a variety of live baits or red and white buck tail jigs got the most action. Good numbers of snook also came from Charlotte Harbor along the eastern and western walls over high tide. Live pilchards, thread herring, pinfish, plus chartreuse and white Clouser Minnow flies worked best. Remember snook season is closed, please handle them with care and quickly return them to the water.
Tarpon fishing was up and down as they were eating good on some days then difficult on others. Strong winds over several days heading into the holiday weekend also challenged anglers. Often the most consistent bite was at first light off the beaches from Sanibel to Gasparilla Island where a properly placed live crab or fly was a good bet to get an early strike. There is a lot of competition from boats working tarpon, often the number of boats outnumber the fish in a given area, especially when weather and wind dictate where to fish. Please be courteous and respectful of other anglers and demonstrate the same fishing etiquette you expect to receive from other boats.
In Boca Grande Pass, tarpon were hooked near the lighthouse on small crabs and squirrel fish or sand perch during the incoming tide. On the late afternoon and evening hill or falling tide, tarpon were targeted feeding on crabs as they were flushed through the pass. Tarpon were also hooked in Pine Island Sound near Fosters Point and off the south side of the power lines while cut bait fishing with mullet, ladyfish and catfish tails. A variety of sharks to 6 feet and large stingrays were also reported.
Mangrove snapper was the best bet inshore for anglers looking for fish for the table. Tasty mangs to 15 inches were reported around creeks at Bokeelia, Matlacha Pass and Pine Island Sound. Snapper were also caught along shorelines and oyster bars along with a few flounder. Several anglers boxed their dinner in and around the Gulf passes, including Blind, Captiva, and Boca Grande passes. From land, snapper reports were good from the Bokeelia Fishing Pier. Best baits included live shrimp, pilchards, small pinfish and cut baits, including thread herring, ladyfish and shrimp tipped jigs. Snapper have keen eyesight, if the water is clear, dropping down to a long 12 to 20-pound fluorocarbon leader with a 1/0 or smaller hook can make all the difference between fishing and catching.
With trout season shut down, most anglers aren’t targeting them — that’s a good thing. However, trout to 21 inches were reported around bait schools north of Bokeelia and between Pineland and Useppa Island. Ladyfish, jack crevalle, bluefish and Spanish mackerel were mixed with the trout. Baits included live pilchards, herring, shrimp and pinfish under rattling corks, white Gulp Shad, Z Mann lures, silver spoons and top-water Skitter walks.
Heading into the holiday weekend we were dealing with a brisk wind. Not unfishable conditions, just enough to make it a challenge, especially with so many boats chasing tarpon. I hope everyone had a chance to enjoy the holiday weekend and spend some time on the water with family and friends. It’s about time for the kids to get out of school for summer vacation. They grow up quick, so take some time to get them on the water this summer and make some lifelong memories.
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.