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Summer’s here and the heat is on

June 27, 2018
By Capt. Bill Russell , Pine Island Eagle

This past week was very hot on the water, with little to no breeze and bright sunny skies. Water temperature climbed into the 90s and red tide with fish kills were reported. The better fishing came a good distance out in offshore waters and inshore areas not affected by the red tide.

Lots of dead fish, including snook, grouper, redfish and others, were floating or washed up on the beaches from Boca Grande Pass and areas north. Dead fish were also reported in mid to northwest Charlotte Harbor, and over the weekend baits were dying in the live well for many anglers between Bokeelia and Cayo Costa State Park.

Enough with the bad. Good catches were boated in Gulf waters from about 140 to 160 of water. Big red snapper and red grouper, along with scamp, mangrove and vermilion snapper, porgy and triggerfish were caught on both live and cut bait. In 60 feet of water southwest of the Sanibel Lighthouse anglers found lane snapper and margate grunts, plus several undersized grouper. Spanish mackerel were also blasting silver spoons in the area.

Article Photos

The Burns family from Ohio enjoyed a morning on the water while vacationing on Captiva Island. The girls out-fished the guys, including this redfish caught in Matlacha Pass. They were fishing with Gulf Coast Guide Service and Capt. Bill Russell.


Near shore reefs are hot one day then dead the next. Most man-made reefs in 30 to 50-foot depths are holding good numbers of Spanish mackerel, plus a possible cobia or permit. Mangrove snapper are holding on most reefs, but they were difficult to catch over the week. Not sure if its concentrations of red tide affecting the bite from day to day.

Most of the tarpon reports came from areas of Charlotte Harbor where boats hooked up on small crabs, ladyfish and Bait Buster lures. Tarpon are on the move so it's best to keep an eye out for rolling fish; early morning presents the best opportunity.

Redfish were caught in mid Pine Island Sound and Matlacha Pass. Fish to 27 inches were hooked on the incoming tide while fishing cut bait around island points on the eastern side of the Sound.

In Matlacha Pass, a few reds were sight fished in the late afternoon south of the bridge. Live and cut pinfish worked for a few reds to 24 inches over the morning incoming tide both north and south of the bridge.

The mangrove snapper bite was steady around oyster bars in south Matlacha Pass and around Redfish and Captiva Passes during slack and slower tides. Live shrimp, small pinfish and cut pilchards were the top baits. Small sharks, ladyfish, sea trout, plus a few bluefish and mackerel were hooked while drifting 5 to 8-foot depths between Captiva and Redfish passes on the eastern side of the intracoastal waterway.

The first week of summer brought on the heat in a big way. If your heading out on the boat, get an early start and bring plenty of drinking water. Last weeks westerly wind pushed the red tide onshore, maybe this week it will clear up, and we can avoid any more damage.

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: gcl2fish@

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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