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On the Water: It was a very good week on the water

November 29, 2018
By Capt. Bill Russell , Pine Island Eagle

Good weather continued through Thanksgiving and the holiday weekend, giving anglers good fishing opportunities.

Offshore, many boats are reporting red tide and fish kills in near-shore waters a few miles off the beaches. It doesn't appear to be widespread but in pockets off the coast. The good news, there were a couple reports of decent bottom fishing near shore in depths around 30 feet. Mangrove snapper, grunts and undersized red grouper were caught over reefs and hard bottom. That's an improvement from recent reports from those depths.

The better bite continues from further offshore in depths from 80 to 120 feet west of Redfish and Boca Grande passes. Red grouper to 30 inches, mangrove and vermilion snapper, plus porgy were boated. A couple gag grouper up to 26 inches were also caught at 75 feet. Best baits included squid, pinfish and cut mullet.

Article Photos

John, Hayden and Drew Morr took a break from the cold of South Lyon Michigan to spend the holiday with family on the islands.  Pictured is the father/son trio with one of many nice trout caught in Pine Island Sound on a beautiful morning while fishing with Capt. Bill Russell.


Inshore, the snook action was consistent throughout Pine Island Sound and Charlotte Harbor. Fish were targeted along island points and sand holes with the incoming tide giving the best bite. Most fish are running 22 to 26 inches, with some larger fish up to 40 inches reported. Remember all snook are catch and release only.

Sea trout were hit and miss for many anglers - if you locate them, the numbers can be good, but you may need to search around to find them. Grass flats from 3 to 6 feet in depth in Pine Island Sound near Rocky Channel and off Bokeelia yielded trout running in size from 13 to 19 inches. Best baits included live shrimp under rattling bobbers and 3-inch Berkley Pro Twitch tail in pearl white or chartreuse color, rigged on eighth or quarter once jig heads.

Also fishing over grass flats often gave anglers fast action with jack crevalle, ladyfish, plus an occasional bluefish or small shark. The best bet that often produced was to keep an eye open for pelicans diving an area and making a drift through it.

Sheepshead reports were on the rise with fish caught around Matlacha, Pine Island Sound and near the Gulf passes. Fresh shrimp and small mud crabs worked for sheepshead up to 4 pounds. Fish were targeted around structure, oyster bars and creeks with good tide movement. From land sheepshead were caught from the Matlacha Bridge, the Sanibel Fishing Pier and the Bokeelia Fishing Pier. Anglers fishing the pier also caught mangrove snapper, black drum, trout, along with other species.

If you are going after sheepshead, remember they have a small mouth with a lot of teeth. You need a small sharp hook to catch them consistently. The bag limit was recently reduced from 15 to eight fish per day per person. Size limit remains at 12 inches total length. If you are not up on current regulations, go to before hitting the water. Also, Fish Rules, is a great app to download to your phone. It's free and has all the fish and regulations, plus a good identification picture of each fish.

I sure hope you have been taking advantage of this great fishing weather recently. Our waters are still warm, and fishing has been good. As we get into cooler days in the coming weeks, look for an increase in sheepshead inshore, around the gulf passes, and hopefully nearshore.

If you have a fishing report or for charter information, please contact us at 239-283-7960, via the Website or email gcl2fish@ Holiday gift certificates available

Have a safe week and good fishin'.

As a native of Pine Island, Capt. 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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