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On the Water: Warm weather continues to bring good fishing | News, Sports, Jobs - Energy And Water Development Corp

On the Water: Warm weather continues to bring good fishing | News, Sports, Jobs

Bob Guetzlaff of Estero, Fla., completed his inshore slam consisting of a sea rout, redfish and snook, with this 30-inch redfish on his last cast of the day. All fish were caught and released while fishing with Capt. Bill Russell around Charlotte Harbor. PHOTO PROVIDED

A small cool front blew through early last week dropping the thermometer along with a day or two of north winds. However, in typical Florida fashion, a couple of days later we rebounded nicely with the temperature climbing back into the 80s and fishing was back on track.

Good news when the mercury drops, we expect the sheepshead bite to heat up. Fish up to 19 inches were reported around Captiva, North Captiva, Cayo Costa and Gasparilla Island. After the winds settled, sheepshead were caught in gulf waters between 25 and 45 feet of water around patch and artificial reefs.

A mix of mangrove snapper, grunts, Spanish mackerel and undersized grouper were caught offshore over the same bottom as sheepshead. Permit were reported over structure west of Fort Myers Beach. Further offshore, several reports came in over the week of good catches of red grouper in depths from 90 to 120 feet. Drifting over hard bottom with squid, live pinfish or strip bait on heavy jig heads and butterfly rigs worked for grouper up to 31 inches. Lane and mangrove snapper, along with porgies were boated as well.

Inshore, the snook bite picked back up as soon as the water temperature climbed into the mid-70s. Fish to 32 inches were caught in southern Pine Island Sound near St. James on artificial lures. Fish up to 28 inches were caught and released in southern Matlacha Pass on DOA paddle tails, gold spoons and live bait. Snook averaging 22-26 inches were hooked in mid to upper Pine Island Sound and along the perimeter of Charlotte Harbor. Artificial baits did well early and late in the day and live baits performed best during mid-day. A few snook pushing 40 inches were landed on live and cut bait.

Schools of Spanish mackerel are moving into coastal waters from just outside the Sanibel Causeway up Pine Island Sound along the intracoastal waterway and into Charlotte Harbor. Most were hooked in 5 to 8-foot depths with bottom consisting of a sea grass/sand mix. Bluefish, ladyfish and sharks were common hook-ups with the mackerel around inshore waters.

Spring brings the largest seatrout of the year, and they are becoming more plentiful each day. Numerous trout measuring up to 22 inches were caught, plus good numbers of fish measuring 17 to 20 inches. As the water warms, their primary diet includes oily bait fish that are moving into inshore waters. Look for the larger trout along bar drop-offs, oyster bars and areas you might fish for snook.

You can only keep or possess one seatrout over 19 inches per boat. Keep up to date with seatrout and all local fish rules by visiting for current Florida and Federal fishing regulations.

As our waters warm, fish are on the move as well as bait fish. Resident fish such as snook are moving to areas less protected from winter cold fronts and mackerel are moving into our waters. Bait fish are becoming more plentiful both inshore on the grass flats and nearshore gulf waters. Plus, the water may have the best visibility we will see all year, it’s a great time to explore. Get on the water and enjoy it!

If you have a fishing report or for charter information, contact Gulf Coast Guide Service at 239-410-8576 (call or text); on the web at; or via email at

Have a safe week and good fishin’.

As a lifetime resident of Matlacha and Pine Island, Capt. Bill Russell has spent his life fishing and learning the waters around Pine Island and Southwest Florida, and as a professional fishing guide for the past 23 years.   

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