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On the Water: Arrival of summer brings the heat

By Staff | Jul 2, 2019

PHOTO PROVIDED The mother and daughter team of Dawn and Morgan Morrison, visiting from Bristol, Rhode Island, worked together to win the battle with this 37-inch snook then released her back into Charlotte Harbor to fight another day after a quick photo. They were fishing with Capt. Bill Russell.

Summer arrived in Southwest Florida packing the heat. With little to no breeze and an absence of rain or clouds it was very hot on the water heading into the weekend. Also, poor tides with slow moving water to go with the mid-day heat often made for tough fishing conditions over several days.

A few days prior to the weekend, a westerly breeze and better tides accounted for some good fishing. Reports of snook came from areas around Charlotte Harbor and the Gulf passes where several fish over 40 inches were released and the bite was steady with smaller fish. Live pilchards, herring, pinfish, pigfish and slippery dicks were the preferred baits. Several redfish up to 28 inches were also released.

Redfish were also caught from mid-Pine Island Sound and Matlacha Pass. Fish to 26 inches were hooked on the higher stage of tide while fishing cut bait and live shrimp along points around keys and islands along the eastern side of the Sound. In Matlacha Pass reds were caught and released south of the bridge near the powerlines and in Buzzard Bay north of the bridge.

The mangrove snapper bite was steady inshore if the tide was moving water. Oyster bars and shorelines were a good place to target in south Matlacha Pass and Pine Island Sound, then fishing around the Gulf passes on the weaker tides. Live shrimp, small live pilchards and cut pilchards were the top baits. Good size snapper were also reported from the Bokeelia Fishing Pier and Matlacha Drawbridge.

In the past week many of the inshore grass flats are covered up with a new hatch of small bait fish, many to small to put on a hook. This is a great place to hook into small sharks, ladyfish, seatrout, Spanish mackerel, jack crevalle and maybe a bluefish. Look for birds, baitfish raining on surface, or fish busting baits. Small shiny lures, silver spoons or live bait should get an immediate strike if you’re in the zone. Also, Spanish mackerel and big ladyfish were hooked just outside Captiva and Redfish passes.

Capt. Bill Russell

Offshore boats found fishing good overall, on some days the bite was solid and others it took some work to fill the box. Red snapper and red grouper, along with scamp grouper, mangrove and vermilion snapper were caught on both live and cut bait in depths from 120 to 160 feet. Inside of a hundred feet, red grouper to 25 inches, plus a snapper mix of lane, mangrove and vermilion were boxed. Spanish mackerel were also blasting silver spoons in the area.

Near shore reefs held action one day then slow the next — again stronger tides made for better fishing. Most man-made reefs in 30 to 50-foot depths are holding good numbers of Spanish mackerel if bait schools are present and the possibility of a king fish or king mackerel. There is also the chance to hook into a cobia or permit.

Most of the tarpon reports came from Boca Grande Pass early in the week over the afternoon crab flush and early mornings in Pine Island Sound north of Redfish Pass and off the beaches. Live bait, including crabs, 6 to 8-inch thread herring and squirrel fish were top baits. Tarpon are on the move and may show up at any time, so it’s best to keep an eye out for rolling fish both inshore and offshore.

The first weekend of summer brought on the heat in a big way. If your heading out on the boat, get an early start and bring plenty of drinking water. This week we should get back on better tides and into an afternoon storm pattern to help cool it down.

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.