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Warmer days should boost local fishing

February 7, 2018
By Capt. Bill Russell ( , Pine Island Eagle

Up and down weather, a full moon and extreme low tides made it challenging for anglers. Despite the challenges, good fishing was reported at times over the past week.

Low tides most of the week limited access to many fishing areas inshore, especially for anglers targeting redfish. A few mid to over slot reds were caught in Pine Island Sound north of Demere Key and further south east of Buck Key. Soaking chunks of cut ladyfish or mullet took reds from 24 to 28 inches. Smaller redfish, with an occasional keeper over 18 inches, were caught in the creeks around "Ding" Darling Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel, on the east side of Cayo Costa State Park and south Matlacha Pass in creeks and around oyster bars.

The sea trout bite was decent on the warmer days but a struggle on the cold, windy days. Trout up to 20 inches were biting in mid to northern Pine Island Sound in deeper sand potholes and grass flats in 3 to 6-foot depths. Some areas were holding mostly undersize fish, but often a slight move resulted in larger fish. The best baits were live shrimp or Gulp shrimp under a popping cork and a variety of soft plastic lures. Several anglers ran across aggressive bonnet head sharks with as many as three at the same time hooked up while targeting trout.

Article Photos

Good day of trout fishing

Members of the Brooks Fishing Club in south Lee County teamed up for a limit of trout. They were fishing in Pine Island Sound with Capt. Jason Ramer and Capt. Bill Russell.


Like the weather, the sheepshead bite was up and down all week. When the bite was good, it was really good, with plenty of larger fish caught. All the gulf passes including Blind, Redfish, Captiva, and Boca Grande were targeted areas as well as docks and piers around the islands. The best bite came with moving water on small shrimp fished on a light jig head, knocker rig or split-shot. A few black drum and mangrove snapper were also caught. Sheepshead were also reported in good numbers on the Causeway and Edison Reef's offshore.

Speaking of offshore, there were a couple days over the past week that allowed anglers to safely head into the gulf. Targeting depths from 80 to 120 feet resulted in limits of red grouper up to 12 pounds. Mangrove, lane and vermilion snapper, plus a few porgies, were also caught from this depth.

Forty-foot depths south of Captiva Pass turned out a few good reports on mangrove snapper and grunts, plus a few catch-and-release gag grouper. Often the offshore bite was a little slow. More than likely due to the full moon. Several tripletails up to 10 pounds were caught off Sanibel in 20 to 30-foot depths.

Looking at the weather forecast, we may be in for a warming trend with highs in the 80s for the next week or so. If this happens we should see the water temperature climb into the 70s. That's the number that should break us out of the winter mode and bring lots of great fishing opportunities. Let's keep our fingers crossed!

If you have a fishing report of for charter information, please contact us at: Gulf Coast Guide Service, phone: 239-283-7960, Website: or email:

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.



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