Southwest Florida Fish Respond to Warm Weather

A complete week of mild weather brought up the water temperatures around Pine Island and put fish on a good feed. The sun wasn’t shining every day, matter of fact several days a heavy fog never lifted until noon, but it was the first week in a long time where I never had to wear a winter jacket on the water, not once.

Sea trout continued as the main attraction for many anglers as the bite has become noticeably more aggressive with the warming water.

We found good consistent trout action near Bokeelia in the northern Sound. A surprisingly high percentage of our fish were of “keeper “size (over fifteen inches) with more than a few approaching twenty inches. Each day the bite would start a little slow, but consistent, and get better as the sun reached higher in the sky. We also found trout in Matlacha Pass but a far larger percentage was small. For bait we used three techniques and all worked equally well, the easiest and very productive was a simple live shrimp under a popping cork. This is for those anglers that want to catch fish and not spend a lot of time casting, a great choice with three or more anglers on the boat. Second, a live shrimp fished with a very small split-shot weight with a slow retrieve across the bottom connected with plenty of fish. And last, a white soft plastic shad tail on a red quarter-ounce jig head, I honestly don’t think the brand of the artificial manners too much, in fact I am not sure what brand I pull out of the bag half the time. The important thing is technique and confidence in the bait.

We are catching sheepsheads both in Matlacha Pass and Pine Island Sound, not in the numbers as last month when the water was cooler, but they are still plentiful and enough large ones to make it interesting. There conti nues to be a good number of undersize redfish around, there are some larger fish showing up but they have been in the shallower back country where a stealthier approach is necessary. Also catching up to a half dozen flounder on each trip, most on the smaller side but others are reporting larger fish and I expect we might have a great spring flounder bite.

We caught several Spanish mackerel over the past week, normally not a big deal, but to me it is. It’s a great indication that the water has warmed considerably and fish are on the move. When you start catching mackerel on the inshore flats after a long bout with cold weather it could be sign of good things to come. Could we be over the hump and progress to early spring fishing? Time will tale, but there are certainly some positive signs.

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“Catch the Action” with Captain Bill Russell