This year kicked off with record rain fall and some pretty cold temperatures for southwest Florida. Fresh water releases from Lake Okeechobee has brought a lot of media attention, they have painted a pretty dark picture for our inshore and nearshore waters. Yes, we had a record amount of rainfall, yes, very strong winds churned up gulf and bays waters for several weeks, and yes, we all know that a long term solution is needed for the discharge off excess rain water from Lake Okeechobee. However, fishing Pine Island Sound, Charlotte Harbor, and Matlacha Pass, water clarity is actually pretty good in the Sound, while tannin stained in Matlacha Pass and the Harbor but still pretty clear. And, we caught fish and the bite is getting consistently better as we transition to spring.

With the arrival of March we should see warmer days that will jump start spring fishing. With warmer temperatures the bait fish migrations well begin as large bait schools move into our waters from the south. With the combination of warm water and a huge influx of food look for predator and game fish to get very hungry as the month progresses.Trout fishing should go from good to great as the weeks pass. And not just in numbers, but also in size, we well note a big rise in large “gators” often 24 inches or larger.

      Our first spring high tides of the year are a good time to hook into redfish under the mangrove shorelines and along oyster bars. Fish on average should be larger than the winter months, with most running in the 18 to 27 inch slot plus a few oversize reds. While targeting these areas for reds it’s common to hook some of the largest trout of the season, plus snook. Speaking of snook, the spring season is open for the next two months (March & April) on our coast. Snook are not back to the numbers prior to 2010 when they suffered a setback from a devastating freeze, but they are making a comeback and they well be hungry. 


      Last week inshore water temperatures averaged between sixty-three and sixty-eight degrees. For me seventy is the magic number, get to that number and keep it there or above for a week and the transition to spring fishing will begin. That’s when bait fish arrive in good numbers, snook get hungry, the biggest trout of the year show their presence, lots of good thing happen. Despite the negative picture the media is painting from an unusually wet winter fishing is getting better each day and I see no reason for the trend to change.


     This is a great time for fishing as the water just seems to come to life. Larger fish are moving in and hungry, you just don’t know what you may hook into!
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Phone: 239-283-7960
“Catch the Action” with Captain Bill Russell