Those that chose to fish had to dodge around rain and storms about every day, and on some days just adapt to staying wet with all day rain. We needed the rain and now that we got it, maybe we will get into our routine summer pattern.
Inshore, the morning high tide gave the best opportunities for a shot at redfish. Fish from 17 to 28 inches were caught off island points and under the mangroves around Buck key in the southern Sound and Wood Keys to the north. Also in south Matlacha Pass, fish were caught on both the east and west wall within a half mile of Matlacha. Rapala Twitch N Rap lures worked well off the Island Points and cut herring or pinfish soaked on bottom worked best under the bushes. A few mangrove snapper up to fourteen inches were also taken on the cut baits.
The trout report was spotty, with the best fishing reported near the Gulf passes, on the beach, and in Charlotte Harbor near Bokeelia. Artificials including Skitterwalks in a chrome or chartreuse pattern and DOA Glow Shrimp took trout up to 20 inches early in the mornings. Live baits including pinfish, pilchards and thread herrings suspended under a popping cork was a better choice from mid-morning on. Spanish mackerel, bluefish and small sharks can also be expected over the same inshore grass flats with the trout.
Weather washed out offshore fishing most of the week; boats are reporting Red snapper in depths from 130 to 180 feet over structure with cut sardines working best for bait. Amberjacks and barracuda over deeper wrecks and scattered red grouper from 60 to 90 feet, grunts, porgies and mangroves snapper were also caught from near shore structure from 30 to 50 feet.
Sharks... and lots of them — that's what many anglers are reporting. It is summer time and that means sharks of all sizes in Southwest Florida. I spent a lot of time fishing the late afternoon tides and we found plenty of action on sharks. We caught sharks from three foot blacktips to nine foot lemons and also several bulls to six feet. The fastest action was with the blacktips, they averaged three to four feet and there are a lot of them out there. I forgot how good they are on the table when properly prepared. We invited a three-foot blacktip home for dinner and introduced it to some beer batter. Not only did that little guy provide a lot of firm white meat, it was delicious.
All our sharks were caught on cut bait including ladyfish, mullet and catfish tails fished on bottom with no weight. A simple single strand 80-pound wire leader with a 6/0 Owner circle hook is all the rigging you need. This set-up on a 40-pound rig was light enough for the blacktips, but also heavy enough for the big ones... although we did need to pull anchor and chase the big lemon before we were spooled.
If you don't want to mess with the big sharks — I really don't blame you if you don't — then you can lighten up more. A large pinfish fished live under a bobber or balloon also works great on the blacktips.
This coming week will again give us some good late day tides for sharking, I prefer to fish the outgoing the last two or three hours until the sun sets. Summer is passing quickly and before you know it the kids will be back in school. Wait until the afternoon thunderstorms clear out and load up the family and take them fishing. Not only will you get in some great family time, you will get to enjoy a beautiful Southwest Florida sunset... and maybe catch the shark to remember for a lifetime.
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'.
Gerilynn Rossman, 15, of St. James has her hands full with a five foot-plus bull shark she landed. The shark was caught and safely released near Bokeelia on a cut ladyfish while fishing with Captain Bill Russell and family.