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On the Water: Red tide is still present across local waters

By Staff | Nov 13, 2019

PHOTO PROVIDED The first bait of the day resulted in a hard fight for Jim Morris, visiting Sanibel from Pennsylvania, with this 42-inch snook. It was caught and released from Charlotte Harbor while fishing with Capt. Bill Russell.

Again, anglers reported signs of red tide across Pine Island Sound and the Gulf beaches over the past week. Most fish kills reported included small bait fish, mullet and catfish, with a few game fish. Signs also included respiratory and eye irritation, plus discolored water.

The better fishing reports came from the Caloosahat-chee River, Charlotte Har-bor, Matlacha Pass, and a good distance offshore.

Anglers fishing the Ca-loosahatchee River between the Cape Coral Bridge and miserable mile hooked into a variety of fish including jack crevalle, snook, redfish, ladyfish, a few big black drum and sawfish. Fish were hooked on live and cut bait, plus gold spoons.

Despite reports of red tide nearby, a few captains found a good bite on snook around Blind Pass over the incoming tide and sea trout and ladyfish inside the mouth of Sanibel’s Tarpon Bay. Kayak anglers also found a few snook and redfish in creeks around “Ding” Darling Wildlife Sanc-tuary.

As of now, the waters of Charlotte Harbor have remained clean and fishy. Schools of large jack crevalle and black tip sharks were sighted harassing mullet schools along bar edges near Bokeelia. Fishing the same areas also turned up hook-ups with Spanish mackerel, bluefish, ladyfish and sea trout. Across the harbor to the northwest side, a few cobia and gag grouper were caught around structure. Catch-and-release snook fishing was steady all around the harbor from just north of Boca Grande Pass, Bull and Turtle bays, the eastern shoreline and around Bokeelia. Redfish up to 26 inches, plus trout were released with the snook.

Capt. Bill Russell

Good action with a grab bag variety came from grass flats in 4 to 7-foot depths from north Matlacha Pass and the harbor. Mackerel, jack crevalle, ladyfish, bluefish, trout, small sharks and yes, catfish and pufferfish, were biting around bait schools.

South of the Matlacha Bridge, redfish, snook and jack crevalle were hooked on the east side of the pass near the powerlines. Top water lures and cut bait worked best.

Offshore, reports were of a slow bite until you were past 90-foot depths. Working hard bottom and ledges from 90 to 110 feet yielded decent action with red grouper, plus good sized mangrove and lane snapper.

Let’s hope cooler weather comes our way soon. Our water is still very warm for this time of year, and as it cools, hopefully the recent red tide outbreaks will subside. Before you plan a day on the water, it would be a good idea to check the latest red tide up date for Southwest Florida online at myfwc.com/media/ 22117/swmap1101.pdf.

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 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.