I can’t remember a time when there has been more bait fish around the waters of Pine Island and Southwest Florida. From small inch long glass minnows to large mullet bait is everywhere, on the calm days it looks like rain on the water except the skies are clear. We are finding the best fishing around the bait schools for redfish, sea trout, snook, bluefish and mackerel.
Redfish caught this week were either large over slot fish up to thirty inches or mid-slot fish averaging twenty to three inches. The large fish we found in schools up to fifty in a pack roaming bar edges in the northern Sound and Charlotte Harbor. Often they were moving fast and difficult to intercept, but you could usually get a hook-up or two before they moved out of range. The smaller reds we caught casting live pilchards into mullet schools around oyster bars and Island points. The best action came over the last hour of the incoming and first hour of the falling water.
Fishing the same areas around oyster bars and points we caught a lot of big trout for this time of year. Most of the fish were over twenty inches with the largest measuring twenty-four, a big average size for September. They also were caught on live pilchards around the mullet schools.
Bluefish (good size ones for our standards), snook, mangrove snapper and flounder were also caught on live pilchards from the same areas. About anywhere you spot bait pods over the deeper grass flats you can expect fast action with Spanish mackerel, ladyfish and small sharks, just look for the birds or the rain on the water.
With the amount and variety of bait fish in our waters now I can only imagine what it’s gonna look like when cooler water to our north starts pushing more bait our way. One thing for sure, our game fish are getting fat and sassy, but there still hungry.
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“Catch the Action” with Captain Bill Russell