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On the Water: A very cold start to the new year

January 17, 2018
By Capt. Bill Russell , Island Reporter, Captiva Current, Sanibel-Captiva Islander

For the better part of the past week cold, weather shut down fishing. Strong north winds delivering the coldest temperatures we have seen in a few years made it pretty miserable on the water. Needless to say, fishing reports were sparse, especially any reports of good fishing.

A 20 degree drop in water temperature can really turn off the bite, and in some instances, leave fish fighting to stay alive. Snook are the most vulnerable; this is the reason they have a closed season for the winter. Too much cold stuns them and leaves them lethargic, making them easy targets to scoop up with a net or snag with a hook. If the mercury drops for too many days in a row, it's possible that many will die. That's just what happened in January 2010 - extended cold weather killed snook by the thousands. Many estimate 60 to 80 percent of our snook population in the southwest was decimated in 2010. From what I witnessed I would have to agree, those numbers were pretty accurate.

With inshore water temperatures in the low to mid-50s, it was difficult on some days to get anything to bite, especially early in the day before the sun had a chance to give a little warmth. On Sunday with the water temperature showing 54 degrees, we actually caught a half dozen snook while trying to catch a redfish or sheepshead. They fought good and looked healthy - positive signs they will survive the cold as warmer days are now in the forecast.

This coming week we should see good sheepshead fishing. They thrive in the cold once they get acclimated to the cooler water. The front should have put them on the move to nearshore structure and inshore. This next month should give us a shot at our largest fish of the year as they are in pre-spawn mode.

Just like our local fish, I do not like the cold, not even a little. There is a reason I have never fished north of Charlotte Harbor in my life. I know our cold days are mild in comparison to what goes on in the northern states, but it's not just me, clients on my boat from the far north admitted it was cold and miserable last week. So, with some luck we can get back to warmer days with light winds and get the fishing back on track.

If you have a fishing report of for charter information, please contact us at: Gulf Coast Guide Service, phone: 239-283-7960, Website: www.fishpineisland.com or email: gcl2fish@live.com

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.

 
 

 

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