Sandwiched in between beautiful Florida weather, a cool front blew through and disrupted fishing for a day or two. It didn't last long and great weather resumed into the weekend.
The sheepshead bite was up and down over the week: some days very productive and other days not so much. With the full moon they were in full spawn mode with fish up to 20 inches caught in the usual places including in and around the Gulf passes, dock, piers and bridge pilings. A few pompano were hooked as well.
Cobia, often cruising in small packs up to four, were either sighted of hooked in areas around Charlotte Harbor. Several were hooked while targeting trout in 5 to 8-foot depths with live pinfish or shrimp for bait. Bonnethead sharks up to 3 feet were also hooked from the same areas.
Big trout are moving in. Fishing just ahead of the cool front, Jessica Lee Callahan visiting from Bloomington, Illinois, scored with this trout measuring over 24 inches in Pine Island Sound while fishing with Capt. Bill Russell.
Offshore, nearshore reefs continue productive for sheepshead, snapper and grunts, plus an occasional cobia or permit. Further offshore, red grouper with a few pushing 30 inches were hauled up from hundred-foot depths along with snapper and porgies. Night anglers scored with big mangrove snapper and amberjacks were caught over wrecks in a hundred-foot-plus depths.
Decent numbers of sea trout were reported between the channel and Buck Key in the lower Sound and outside of Wulfert Keys near Sanibel. Further north, keeper-size trout were scattered across grass bottom and sand holes from Big Jim Creek south to Rat and Cat keys. Catches of keeper-size trout was very sparse throughout Matlacha Pass, with the best reports coming from the southern end south of the power lines. We are beginning to catch larger trout a good sign spring is near with several fish measuring over 24 inches.
Catch-and-release snook fishing was good ahead of the late week cool down with fish up to 30 inches hooked in mid-Pine Island Sound and south Matlacha Pass. The water temperature is already back above 70 degrees so a decent snook bite should continue.
Some anglers are doing well with redfish and others are struggling. Really low tides gave the best opportunities for sight fishing with fish up to 28 inches in north Matlacha Pass and fish to 25 inches in the mid-Sound on the eastern side. Just ahead of last week's cool front with the combination of a west wind and incoming tide, a decent number of redfish often mixed with snook were caught around islands along the eastern side of Pine Island Sound.
We've been fortunate to have a good number of beautiful days with blue skies and light winds so far this month. Super low tides may have been an inconvenience for some, but when we get nice weather this time of year you need to get on the water and take advantage of it.
Have a safe week and good fishin'.
As a native of Pine Island, 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.