Weather has dictated how and where we fished around Pine Island in Southwest Florida for the better part of the New Year. We are catching a mix of sheepsheads, sea trout and redfish in both Matlacha Pass and Pine Island Sound.
On the good weather days, warm with light wind, we’ve been heading to Pine Island Sound. I wouldn’t describe the bite as “on fire” but it’s been pretty consistent with fairly easy trout limits, with fish up to twenty-one inches. Either a live shrimp and jig combo or a live shrimp under a popping cork were the best baits. We found sheepsheads around structure in the Sound where a small live shrimp fished on a split-shot took the bigger fish. The stronger the tide the better the bite.
On the cold or windy days we have been staying in Matlacha Pass and again finding steady action. We have caught a lot of redfish recently, but most are running on the small side, occasionally a larger fish sneaks in. Our best redfish action has come from mangrove creeks and oyster bars on free lined live shrimp.
It’s been a good season for large sheepsheads in Matlacha Pass; the cold, windy days have been the best for the bigger fish. They thrive in conditions that most of our local species shut down. Again, a strong current is key.
Trout aren’t averaging as large in Matlacha Pass as in the Sound, there are plenty of keeper size fish, you just have to cull through a few more under size fish to fill a limit. The same shrimp/jig or shrimp and popping cork rigs that produced in the Sound also was the best choice in the Pass.
With the ever changing weather I really can’t complain about the fishing, there are days where we have been rained or blown off the water, but hey, that’s to be expected. When I look at the weather to our north it is really hard to have any complaints in southwest Florida. A cold front arrived today, but we should be in t-shirts again by the weekend, I almost feel guilty.
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“Catch the Action” with Captain Bill Russell