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On the Water: May the big winds stop — soon!
May 31, 2017

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Overall it was a tough week for anglers and like too many days this spring it was due to windy conditions.

Nothing hampers tarpon fishing like strong winds. Everyone is affected - skiff anglers sight fishing, live bait anglers working off the beaches, harbor or sound, even those targeting fish in the Gulf passes are handicapped. Not only does the wind make it very difficult to fish many of the areas, but it makes it often near impossible to locate schooling fish. Modern technology with side scan sonar may help in deeper areas, but it's still difficult to stay with the fish once located. Often the best choice is to anchor up in known tarpon areas and fish dead baits on bottom or suspended live baits and let the fish find you.

Tarpon hook-ups were reported in Pine Island Sound south of Demere Key and between Redfish Pass and Cabbage Key just off the channel. Several tarpon were also hooked in Charlotte Harbor near Bokeelia while drifting live thread herring. Over the days with an easterly wind, protected areas along the Gulf beaches from Blind Pass north to Gasparilla Island passes held concentrations of tarpon. Later in the week, heading into the weekend, tarpon were hooked in and around Boca Grande Pass, with small blue crabs the preferred bait.

Over the morning incoming tides, redfish from 21 to 29 inches were reported from Black Island and other areas near Pineland and also in the southern Sound between the power lines and Buck Key, plus around creek mouths at Sanibel's "Ding" Darling Wildlife Refuge. Most were taken on cut pinfish, sardines, shrimp or ladyfish under the mangroves. Redfish were also reported in southern Matlacha Pass while fishing live pilchards and pinfish along shorelines near from the powerlines to Reckem's Point. Jack crevasse, mangrove snapper and a few snook were also caught from these areas.

With strong winds came dirty water, making it difficult to locate or catch trout with any consistency. The waters of Matlacha Pass and eastern Charlotte Harbor seemed to be less affected than other areas. No great numbers were reported, but trout up to 24 inches were hooked along shorelines and sand holes, plus good numbers of undersize fish while drifting over grass bottom in 3 to 5-foot depths. Trout to 20 inches were also caught in 3 to 5-foot depths between Redfish Pass and Roosevelt Channel.

The month of May is mostly behind us but we have only had a handful of days with typical May weather and fishing. May has always been one of, if not my favorite month for fishing, not because of the opportunities at catching so many different species, but because of the weather. Generally, it's a very predictable month bringing sunny mild days and light winds through the early afternoon, followed by a welcome afternoon sea breeze and possibly late day thunderstorms. To date it's been anything but predictable, with strong winds from about every direction and barely any rain in sight. It's been a very difficult month to fish, especially target tarpon.

We still have a little time left, let's keep our fingers crossed that our weather gets into more of a typical pattern, and we can salvage a few good days heading into the holiday weekend.

If you have a fishing report or for charter information, please contact us at Gulf Coast Guide Service at 239-283-7960, on the Web at 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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