Our first real cool front that brought a couple days of strong north winds arrived over the weekend. Fishing ahead of the front was good despite breezy days. After the front, cooler temperatures and low humidity made for very pleasant days on the water, although the bite was a little slower.
Snook, with a good number in the 30-inch range, were reported throughout Pine Island Sound and near the mouth of the Caloosahatchee River. Both Redfish and Captiva passes yielded a decent snook bite before the cool front settled in. Snook were targeted drifting pinfish and pigfish past structure with enough weight to keep the bait near bottom. Similar scenarios also occurred on Gasparilla Island north of Boca Grande Pass. In the Sound, snook were hooked off island points on higher water and from sand potholes on the lower water. Near the mouth of the river, look for snook congregated along the deeper shorelines and oyster bars. Top water lures have been good over the early morning hours.
Strong winds as the cool front moved through also put snook in a feeding mood late at night from the Matlacha Drawbridge.
The snook were biting before the cool front arrived. Aureilla Bush from Pace, Fla., caught and released this snook in Matlacha Pass while fishing with Capt. Bill Russell
As the water continues to cool, the trout bite is becoming more predictable with fish to 20 inches caught over grass flats and larger trout to 22 inches taken by snook anglers.
A few areas mentioned over the week that yielded trout included the flats from Red Light Shoals to Flamingo Bay Channel, between Useppa Island and Cabbage Key, and further south, in 4 to 5-foot grass flats on the Gulf side of the Sanibel Causeway and outside Sanibel's Tarpon Bay. Mackerel, jacks, bluefish, pompano and, of course, ladyfish were mixed with the trout in most areas.
Low tides in the afternoons left lots of real estate exposed and gave shallow-water anglers good odds at chasing skinny water redfish despite the wind. Areas protected from the northerly wind gave the best opportunities; a few locations mentioned included the flats south of Burgess Bay near Bokeelia, the Mud Hole area in south Matlacha Pass, and "Ding" Darling inside Sanibel. Fish ranged from 19-26 inches with a few over 30 inches also hooked.
As we close out the month, look for good fishing to continue, plus some of our best weather of the year. We've had a good share of wind over the past week, hopefully it will settle down between the cool fronts.
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.