On the water: Fishing is good between weather fronts News, sports, jobs

On the water: Fishing is good between weather fronts  News, sports, jobs

Good sheep hunting should continue throughout the week. Dave Lewandowski and his buddies caught a few big fish fishing around Pine Island Sound with Capt. Bill Russell. Image provided

Well, as usual lately, the week started out cold, got nice, then rained and colder over the weekend. At least the days in between are nice, and the fish are biting.

Calm seas during the week allowed anglers to head west into Gulf waters where many reported good catches. Of course, the winds picked up as the weekend approached, and as we know, Sunday was just a miserable day.

A mix of snapper, grunts, sheepshead, loads of small grouper and a few hogfish have been caught in depths of 30 to 50 feet. Bottom-caught shrimp were the preferred bait prepared in a variety of ways. Many treble tails have been found under the buoys, and fishing over the artificial reefs has turned up Spanish mackerel, sharks and barracuda.

For larger snapper and red grouper, depths are 70 to 100 feet west of Captiva Pass and southwest of Knapp Point.

Every week, when we get a few days of good weather, the pompano catch increases. Pompano have been caught south of Matlacha Pass between powerlines and Equatorial Point, on the Gulf side of Sanibel A-Span, inside Redfish Pass and off the sand bars around Charlotte Harbor. Pompano are tied to shrimp caught off the bottom, under a popping or rattling cork, and bounced across the bottom on jig heads and using pompano jigs. If you catch one pompano, fish the area well, they are generally in schools.

Last week was probably the peak of sheep racing. Good numbers and sizes have been reported near shore, around bay passes and near shore. Most large fish are full of eggs and are often exhausted, meaning final spawning is near. With the cold weather, good to good sheepshead hunting should continue throughout the week.

Anglers are fishing the deep shorelines of hard bottom and structure in southern Pine Island Sound and San Carlos Bay also with black drum up to 8 pounds, snook and redfish. Snook and redfish have been tied to plastic shad tails in Pine Island Sound between Demere Key and Pineland above the incoming tide targeting sand holes and beaches.

Seatrout have been caught across Pine Island Sound from Useppa Island south to Chino Island. The numbers were often good. However, many of them have fallen below the 15-inch guard size. Trout congregate on a variety of terrain. They are being caught over 3 to 6 feet of grass flats, sand holes, and bar slopes adjacent to grass flats and near oyster bars. Jigs, live shrimp, and DOA shrimp were caught under a vibrating float and paddle tails in various colors to fool trout up to 21 inches. Ladyfish and bonnethead sharks were also common catches.

One week, if we can go a whole week without the weather becoming an issue. I know we’ve had better than most countries, but it sure would be nice to settle into a consistent fishing pattern. Winter is almost over so this could be the week.

Stay up to date on fishing regulations by visiting www.myfwc.com. Also download the Fish Rules app on your phone. It has current regulations and seasons with pictures to help identify the fish.

As a lifelong resident of Matlasha and Pine Island, Captain Bill Russell has spent his life fishing and learning the waters surrounding Pine Island and southwest Florida, and as a professional fishing guide for the past 23 years.

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