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On the Water: A mixed bag: some good reports, some bad

July 11, 2018
By Capt. Bill Russell , Pine Island Eagle

Red tide continued to linger in our waters again this week, as dead fish were reported floating and washing ashore along the beaches. Despite red tide, not all waters were affected and there were some good fishing reports.

Large schools of bait (Atlantic thread herring) are all over the eastern side of Charlotte Harbor with lots of hungry fish in hot pursuit. When the waters calm, it's very easy to locate the bait schools. Look for rain on the surface, pelicans diving and dolphin rolling.

Good numbers of Spanish mackerel were hooked while working a silver spoon with a fast retrieve. Shrimp under a float also worked for mackerel and a few silver trout. Schools of big jack crevalle can often be sighted busting the bait on the surface. Pound for pound they are one tough customer - no food value but an excellent fighter. Silver spoons or about any top- or sub-surface lure will quickly get hammered if you're around the school.

Article Photos

While visiting Captiva Island, Phil Karakoosh and his grandson, Walker Massey, from Cheshire, Connecticut, had a good morning of fishing. They caught snook, snapper, mackerel, sea trout, a 6-foot bull shark, and this hard fighting jack crevalle. They were fishing Charlotte Harbor with Capt. Bill Russell.


Sharks from 2 to 6 feet and several tarpon were hooked around the bait pods. Sharks species included sharp nose, blacktip, hammerhead and bulls.

Also, around Charlotte Harbor, the mangrove snapper bite was good in many areas. Tasty mangs up to 13 inches were landed under the Bokeelia Fishing Pier and around Islands and oyster bars along the eastern shore near Burnt Store Marina. Snook and redfish were also reported along the eastern shore.

In Matlacha Pass, mangrove snapper were found along oyster bars and creek mouths; a few big sea trout up to 24 inches were hooked in the same areas. Several pompano were reported while drifting 3 to 5-foot depths north of the drawbridge while fishing a live shrimp under a popping cork.

In Pine Island Sound and areas around the Gulf passes, fishing was sketchy depending on water quality due to the red tide. An area that was good one day may not be so good the next. Redfish to 34 inches and a few snook were reported off the eastern side around mid-Sound. The best action came over the incoming tide fishing live pinfish and cut mullet along the perimeter of sand holes near island points.

Drifting Captiva Pass turned up a few nice mangrove snapper and undersized grouper, but the bite was often off more than on.

Offshore, the better fishing came from a good distance out in depths from 110 to 160 feet. Anglers making the long boat ride were rewarded with a variety of fish including, gag, red and black grouper; red, mangrove and lane snapper; porgy; king mackerel; and even a few dolphin (mahi). The bite wasn't always hot, at times anglers found a good show of fish on the screen but not much biting. Other times the bite was steady with both live and cut bait working well.

Summer brings us some flat, calm days allowing for a comfortable boat ride far into the Gulf waters. If you or a friend has a capable vessel, this is a great time to make the run offshore. Make sure and watch the weather, leave someone a float plan at home and bring lots of drinking water, it can get hot.

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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