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On the Water: An improved week of fishing in the area

April 25, 2018
By Capt. Bill Russell , Pine Island Eagle

Inshore, tarpon hook-ups were reported across Pine Island Sound and Charlotte Harbor. No large schools of fish were noted but tarpon estimated from 80 to 120 pounds were hooked over the week. Live mullet and thread herring or cut ladyfish, mullet and catfish tails were top baits. Tarpon are moving a lot; where you find them one day they may not be there the next.

Anglers found a strong sea trout bite much of the week with fish up to 26 inches. As usual, the largest trout were hooked while targeting snook. Limits of trout averaging 16 to 21 inches were caught in northern Matlacha Pass, along the Burnt Store Bar in Charlotte Harbor, and mid-Pine Island Sound south of the fish shacks. Many of the same areas also yielded Spanish mackerel to 24 inches.

The snook bite improved over the previous few weeks, at least on the days with good tide movement. Good numbers of mostly undersized fish were released from Matlacha Pass, the eastern side of Charlotte Harbor and the back or east side of Cayo Costa State Park. Live pinfish, pilchards and herring worked best, plus artificials including gold spoons, Mirrolure Mirrodines and Berkley Gulps. Several larger snook up to 33 inches were also reported from Matlacha Pass, the Matlacha Drawbridge at night and structure around the Gulf passes.

Article Photos

Mary Valpie of Bonita Springs landed this 26-inch redfish while enjoying a beautiful day on the water with her husband and daughter. Mary also landed a trout and snook to complete her inshore slam. She was fishing Matlacha Pass with Capt. Bill Russell.


Redfish were hit or miss; some anglers fared well while others struck out. Fish ranging in size from 20 to 26 inches were found around oyster bars, in sand holes on low water and under the mangroves on high water in Pine Island Sound north of Galt Island and in southern Matlacha Pass near the powerlines. Pilchards, cut mullet, shrimp and gold spoons were top baits.

The offshore bite was also hit and miss for most boats. Bottom fish like snapper and grunts often cooperated, but for many it was tough to fill a limit of keeper red grouper.

Good numbers of undersized fish were hooked in depths beginning at 70 feet with an occasional keeper up to 25 inches. A few big porgies and triggerfish were also brought to the boat. Tripletail and permit, plus cobia, were sight fished off structure west of Fort Myers Beach and Sanibel Island. With the current warming trend, once the wind lays down, look for large concentrations of tarpon moving up the coast.

Fishing wasn't always great over the past week, but it was getting better as we finally got a short stretch of consistent weather. Tide played a factor, as we've seen some pretty slow water movement to close out the weekend. This week we get back on four tides a day, plus it looks like a stretch of good weather. I expect to hear some good reports for next week.

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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