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On the Water: Fishing in the blazing summer heat
August 30, 2017

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If you were fishing recently, you no doubt felt the heat. Inshore, offshore, the beaches, piers or bridges, they all had one thing in common, it was HOT! It's typical for mid-August: bright sunny days with no to very little wind to jack up the heat. And many days with a lack of early afternoon thunderstorms to cool things down only makes it worse.

Inshore, despite the water temperature climbing, the bite was still good at times. Mangrove snapper, as they have been for much of the summer, were the go-to fish with limits coming fairly easy. Fish to 15 inches were found over grass flats and bar edges under schools of small baitfish, and under mangrove overhangs and oyster bars. Fishing the slack and slower tide stages also produced limits of nice fish in Boca Grande and Captiva passes. Good numbers of snapper were found throughout Matlacha Pass, Charlotte Harbor, Pine Island Sound and also areas adjacent to the Sanibel Causeway.

Trout numbers were consistent but the average size was generally an inch or two below keeper size, with many anglers reporting about one of every dozen measuring over the 20-inch minimum, plus a couple easily over 22 inches. Look for trout feeding under the many schools of small bait fish over grass bottom in 3 to 6 feet of water. Most fish are keying on the small fish, your best chance for fast action is to either catch and use the real thing or cast small lures that mimic the little baits. Trout were found on both sides of the Sanibel Causeway, east of Buck Key, between Cabbage Key and Captiva Pass, and between Demere Key and the fish shacks, plus off Jug Creek Shoals near Bokeelia.

Spanish mackerel were in good numbers in north Matlacha Pass and off Bokeelia, plus bluefish, small sharks and ladyfish were often found harassing the bait schools with the trout. A few tarpon were reported taking a light tackle aimed at trout while fishing Pine Island Sound and Charlotte Harbor.

A couple redfish schools were located in mid-Pine Island Sound and Charlotte Harbor over the lower stages of tide. Most of the school fish are in the 30-inch range. Smaller fish averaging 19 to 24 inches were caught around oyster bars in south Matlacha Pass on the morning incoming tide and under the shade of the mangroves in northern Pine Island Sound on high water. As we close out the month, we should see more and larger schools of big reds.

Offshore, a few red grouper to 12 pounds were caught 25 to 40 miles west of Captiva. Mangrove, lane and yellowtail snapper were also taken from the same depth. Cobia and tripletail were a pleasant surprise for a few anglers as well. Closer to shore over artificial reefs within sight of land, shrimp/jig combinations worked for a mix of fish including mangrove snapper, mackerel, trout and a few flounder. Sharks and barracuda were also common hook-ups along with big goliath grouper.

It sure doesn't feel like it but we are on the downhill side of the summer heat. Fall or autumn is a month away and soon we well feel subtle changes to our weather as days grow shorter. That's great news and relief for both anglers and fish.

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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