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On the Water: Fishing picks up as weather improves

August 28, 2019
By Capt. BILL RUSSELL - On the Water , Pine Island Eagle

After several weeks of unsettled weather and thunderstorms or rain occurring anytime of day, we finally settled back into our normal summer weather pattern -- clear calm mornings followed with scattered afternoon thunderstorms. Tides were weak early in the week often affecting the bite, but seas were calm inshore and off.

Inshore, anglers have noted an upswing in schooling redfish as the month nears an end. Fish up to 31 inches were caught and released from mid-Pine Island Sound and along the eastern and western walls of Charlotte Harbor. Many days held low tides, with the skinny water, and reds were targeted from potholes and drop-offs along sand bars. At times with higher water, redfish were hooked under the shade of mangrove shorelines and around oyster bars.

The inshore snapper bite was not on par with previous weeks, as many anglers found they were not hungry or no longer in their usual locations. The better reports came while fishing structure and deep holes throughout Pine Island Sound and drifting ledges in the Gulf passes. Along with mangroves to 15 inches, a few undersize mutton snapper were also hooked.

Article Photos

Photo provided

Keep an eye out for big redfish in the upcoming months. Cedric Wagner caught and released this big girl in north Pine Island Sound fishing with Capt. Bill Russell.

Sharks from 2 to 7 feet were reported in north Matlacha Pass and in Pine Island Sound from the fish shacks south past the powerlines. Blacktip, bull, bonnethead and sharpnose sharks were caught on a variety of cut bait in depths from 3 to 9 feet. Over the calm morning hours, schools of juvenile tarpon from 10 to 60 pounds were sighted rolling around natural channels or cuts across the eastern side of the Sound.

Offshore, boats fishing depths from 65 to 85 feet continue to box red grouper plus a variety of snapper, grunts and porgy. Baits included squid, pinfish and strips or filets of pinfish, squirrelfish and mullet.

With the recent rains our inshore waters have become dark in color. This is tannin stain with most coming from the mangrove leaves. They are a lot like tea leaves when soaked in water. This is natural and it happens every rainy season. As of now, the inshore waters remain heathy with lots of baitfish, gamefish and wildlife. Slow or weak tides resulted in poor fishing for many anglers last week but that's to be expected. Now, let hope for no tropical storms!

If you have a fishing report or for charter information, please contact us Gulf Coast Guide Service at 239-283-7960, via the Website or email

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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