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On the Water: A windy start to the month of May
May 16, 2018

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Like much of April, the first week of May continued with more windy days. There were a couple nice days mixed in, but often north or east winds hampered anglers.

Tarpon are around in good numbers and at times hungry over the week. On the windy days it was difficult to both locate and fish many areas inshore and off the beaches. Fish were reported in good numbers off the southwest tip of Sanibel in 20-foot depths. The best bite was at first light, mid-day, then again late afternoon. Anglers found a good bite in Boca Grande Pass over several days both on the morning and afternoon tides. Large sharks often harassed hooked fish both in the pass and off Sanibel. If you get a big shark going after your hooked fish, it's best to break it off and give the tarpon a fighting chance. In Pine Island Sound, pods of tarpon were reported off both sides of the intracoastal waterway; look for them rolling on the calm days or free jumping. Best baits over the week included small crabs, thread herring, pilchards, pinfish, cut mullet or ladyfish, catfish tails and DOA Bait Buster lures.

For fun times, the Spanish mackerel action heated up over the week. Fish were in good numbers near the Gulf passes, outside the Sanibel Causeway and Charlotte Harbor. From shore, both the Sanibel and Bokeelia piers, plus the Matlacha Drawbridge yielded mackerel. Best baits included live shrimp or pilchards, plus small shiny lures or spoons with a fast retrieve.

Big ladyfish and bluefish were often caught with the mackerel.

Sea trout numbers were good on most days, but the average size dropped from weeks previous. Steady action with fish ranging from 12 to 14 inches was found over grass flats through Pine Island Sound and north Matlacha, with an occasional keeper measuring up to 18 inches. The afternoon high water yielded a few larger fish up to 23 inches while targeting oyster bars in the Sound near Buck and Cabbage keys.

Not much to report on redfish over the week. A few came off the eastern shore of Charlotte Harbor on high water and in the creeks of "Ding" Darling Wildlife Refuge. Once we drop the easterly wind, the bite should improve.

Offshore, the fishing is pretty good when weather conditions allow. Limits of red grouper were found in depths from 80 to 110 feet. A mix of snapper, porgy, grunts and African pompano were also caught. Nearshore artificial reefs are holding good numbers of barracuda and some big sharks, including hammerhead and bulls, plus lots of Spanish mackerel and a few king mackerel. Mangrove snapper and grunts, plus out-of-season gag grouper were hooked over ledges and patch reefs 3 to 6 miles offshore.

Starting to sound like a broken record, but enough with the wind! A strong north or easterly wind is counter-productive for just about all fishing on our coast. It works directly against the incoming tide keeping our water out or lower than normal and it just isn't fishy.

Soon, we have to get into our typical pre-summer pattern, it's just not right to wake up in May with a cool brisk wind form the north.

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