Summer in Southwest Florida means hot temperatures and plenty of rain and often thunderstorms. If you don't mind working around the weather, the fishing is often pretty good and competition from other boats is scarce.
Redfish have become more consistent as summer progresses; most are legal size averaging 20 to 25 inches with a few over size fish going over 30. Extra high tides over the past week gave anglers plenty of water for fishing under the shade of the mangroves. Redfish were reported around Rat and Cat Keys in the Sound and also around Wulfert Keys further south near Sanibel.
Matlacha Pass also yielded fish from Masters Landing north to Matlacha on the western side of the Pass and on the eastern side of Buzzard Bay north of the bridge. Floating a silver dollar-sized pinfish or pilchard under a cork or soaking a ballyhoo tube on bottom has been the best baits on my boat.
Summer rains can often make for good inshore fishing. That was the case last week as Chris Dominick is pictured with one of many redfish he and his fishing buddy Kelly boated. They were fishing live pinfish in north Matlacha Pass on a charter with Captain Bill Russell.
Anglers fishing from kayaks report connecting with reds on gold weedless spoons. These redfish are tight under the mangroves on the higher stages of the tide. It's important to keep the bait as tight to the mangroves as possible. By the end of the month, schools of large reds should begin bunching up on the flats for their fall run.
Surprisingly, there are some big summer trout over the grassflats. They're not thick and undersize fish are mixed in, but we have caught trout up to 24 inches. We are finding the larger trout in areas of open water where sand bars separate deeper water from three to five foot deep grassflats. Schools of bait fish are concentrated in these areas and trout, along with Spanish mackerel, ladyfish and small sharks are working the bait schools.
Trout were also caught over the incoming tide over grassflats inside Redfish and Captiva Passes and in the gulf side of the Sanibel Causeway. Also, don't be surprised if a tarpon joins the party - we have hooked tarpon from 70 to 90 pounds on about every other trip on live pilchards.
Mangrove snapper were caught from the beaches to the Matlacha bridges and about anywhere in between with structure. The rock jetties at Redfish and Blind Passes, the old Phosphate Dock at Boca Grande, Sanibel and Bokeelia Piers and Mangroves Points with hard bottom and good tide movement all produced summer snapper up to 14 inches. For bait, live shrimp, pilchards and small pinfish, plus small cut bait with a small circle hook and 20 to 25 pound fluorocarbon leader worked best.
Offshore, boats are reeling in red grouper from 50 to 65 foot depths with hard coral bottom. Large live pinfish or jig/squid combinations produced reds to 28 inches. Lane snapper and white bone porgies were also caught over the coral bottom with smaller bait and tackle. Mangrove snapper and Spanish mackerel were reported from nearshore artificial reefs including Belton Johnson west of Blind Pass and Helen's a few miles to the north. Some large goliath grouper are also hanging around most all the offshore reefs for those anglers looking for a real challenge.
Use the weather to your advantage and fishing can be good during the hot month of August. Our inshore water temperature can change quickly - give us three or four days with bright sunny skies and the inshore waters quickly get hot and the bite can slow. A couple rainy days with limited sunshine and the water will drop several degrees; this can trigger very good fishing.
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If you have a fishing story or for charter information, please contact us at 239-283-7960 or www.fishpineisland.com. Have a safe week and good fishin'.