It was a tough and cold week for anglers as they often experienced very slow bite and days with less than desirable fishing conditions. Early in the week, water temperatures dipped into the upper 50s and lower 60s, followed by a few days of fine weather on the heels of another front that arrived on Super Bowl Sunday.
With slow tides and cold waters, inshore fishing was difficult. A few redfish were caught near Pine land along the shores and mangrove creeks in “Ting” Darling Wildlife Sanctuary while soaking cut ladybugs on the bottom or live shrimp under a rattling float.
Sea trout reports were sparse during the week with a few keepers and undersized fish from deep holes around Galt Island, Buck Key and northern Pine Island Sound. Trout were hooked to live shrimp under floats, combination shrimp and jigs, DOA shrimp under popping plugs, and Z Man Pearl Paddlerz baits.
Sheepshead action wasn’t hot, but it was steady for anglers spending time around the islands and gulf passes. Fish up to 18 inches were caught alive in boxes and cut the shrimp off the bottom. Fishermen believe the long, slow tides affected the bite for several days.
On the few warm days with light winds, good action with Spanish Mackerel came from 5-8 feet deep around Sanibel Causeway and Sanibel Fishing Pier. Mackerel up to 26 inches hung from small silver spoons, pompano jigs and live shrimp under popping corks.
Also, on the few good days, the boats rushed into the gulf waters to fish a few miles from the beach to over 30 miles. Within sight of land, prawns caught on the bottom produced sheepsheads, grunts, mangrove snappers and gag groupers to release. As with shore fishing, the bite was not hot, but steady action with patience.
Fishing depths ranging from 90 to 110 feet of red grouper and mangrove snapper limits were framed with good sized snappers. Shrimp, squid, sardines and live grunts were the bait of choice.
Looks like we’re in for another windy week. With a bit of luck, it will work out before the weekend. February is always a volatile month in Southwest Florida with fronts often bringing windy conditions.
Have a good week and good fishing.
As a lifelong resident of Matlacha and Pine Island, Captain Bill Russell has spent his life fishing and learning the waters around Pine Island and Southwest Florida, and as a professional fishing guide in over the past 23 years.