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On the Water: Finally — perfect weather for fishing

June 6, 2018
By Capt. Bill Russell , Pine Island Eagle

Perfect weather for pretty much the entire week gave anglers the chance to target pretty much anything species they desired inshore or offshore.

With a week of calm, mild days tarpon returned in good numbers after becoming scarce during the strong north winds from the previous week. Tarpon were reported in big numbers in and around Boca Grande Pass, off the beaches of Cayo Costa, Captiva and Sanibel, and in Pine Island Sound from Foster's Point south to Roosevelt Channel and west of the fish shacks. Chances at hooking a tarpon were best from first light to late morning and again in the late afternoon.

Sharks are making their presence felt as some really big ones were sighted or hooked around schooling tarpon around the Gulf passes and off the beaches. The largest included hammerhead, tiger and bulls. Blacktip and spinner sharks are also around the passes and peach and several to 6 feet were hooked while fishing around mackerel schools in Charlotte Harbor and Pine Island Sound. Also look for lemon end bull sharks in Pine Island Sound and Charlotte Harbor around mullet and ladyfish schools.

Article Photos

The annual Useppa Island Club Tarpon Tournament, a two-day event, was held this past weekend with two women anglers taking home the trophy and first place. Kelly Liber and Amie Carfrae (pictured) teamed up with Capt. Travis Murphy to run away with the prize, hooking nine tarpon and releasing seven. Congratulations ladies and Capt. Murphy, great job!


Keeper-size trout with most averaging from 15 to 18 inches, plus a few larger fish were caught over sand holes surrounded by turtle grass. Some of the best reports were in areas near the Gulf passes in depths averaging 4 to 7 feet. Trout to 19 inches were caught in Charlotte Harbor just off Bokeelia and near Burnt Store Marina. Trout mixed with snook were reported in the surf along the beaches from Boca Grande south to Sanibel. Look for any type submerged object along the surf to attract them.

Spanish mackerel and bluefish were also on many of the same areas as trout. Mackerel fishing has been good in Charlotte Harbor with some really big fish; look for the best action during the strongest tides. Surprisingly, even at times with little tide movement the macks were still busting up everything. Look for them cruising deeper grass/sand bottom areas from 5 to 10-foot depths.

Anglers report scattered action on redfish both in Pine Island Sound and Matlacha Pass. Fish up to 26 inches were caught on dead shrimp fished near or under the mangroves near Smokehouse Bay in Matlacha Pass, and fish to 28 inches went for fresh cut thread herring along Island Points on the south end of Matlacha Pass. Reds from 17 to 24 inches were taken on live shiners and pinfish in Pine Island Sound around Islands near the fish shacks on the higher tides.

Nearshore reefs offshore are holding a variety of fish including cobia, permit, snapper, king and Spanish mackerel, grouper and others. Various baits including shrimp, small crabs, live pilchards, herring or pinfish, plus fresh cut baits gives anglers the best opportunity at hooking a variety. The best fishing came from 30 to 45-foot depths.

With tarpon season in full swing, many guides and anglers are devoting all their time chasing the silver king. If battling a tarpon isn't your thing, this is a great time to target other species, as they are getting nowhere near the fishing pressure as any previous months.

With a lot less pressure it's possible to get on a good bite without another boat in sight.

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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