Southwest Florida Fishing Improves with Warming Trend

This week our weather pattern was what we expect from southwest Florida, mild days with highs near eighty. We had a couple rainy days, but overall it was a vast improvement from the deadly cold we recently experienced. The fish are slowly coming around, the water temperature doesn’t rise as quickly as the air, early in the week the water was still too cold but by week’s end the fishing was getting better each day. Even the manatees and dolphins reappeared in the bays.

We found several areas holding a lot of big sheepsheads but we never could get a good bite established. Our best stop on one day was four nice fish from one spot then it was over and time to move on. We did catch redfish almost everywhere we caught sheepsheads, but they were smaller (rat) reds averaging about sixteen to seventeen inches. We were fishing shrimp on a number 2 bait keeper hook with just enough weight to keep in on bottom while fishing oyster bars in Matlacha Pass and northern Pine Island Sound near Cabbage Key.

Trout fishing started out slow early in the week then gained momentum heading into the weekend as each day brought warmer water temperatures. We caught trout but we really had to move and work for them more than I like. We would pull up on a hole; first line would hit the water and BAM fish on. Here we go I thought, then most times that would be it or it would be a long wait until the next bite. We did fish one hole in Matlacha Pass where four anglers had fast action with trout. Most were just shy of the fifteen inch limit, but they did manage a half dozen keepers from the hole. We were fishing shrimp under a bobber, shrimp on a jig head and white quarter ounce buck tails tipped with shrimp. The bite was noticeable better over the incoming tide the later part of the week. We also caught a wide assortment of other critters including grouper, snapper, flounder, lizard fish, needlefish, stingrays and blowfish, this time of year it’s fun just to guess what the next fish is going to be.

A quick update on the post freeze snook status. As we mentioned last week snook season in Florida is suspended until September first at the earliest. The FWC is still gathering data on dead fish counts, their latest predictions are that 125 to 250,000 snook perished in the state. That is roughly ten percent of the snook population of the state. If that is accurate, we will hopefully see them come back relatively quick. This is a preliminary figure and more than likely will change several times, I know a lot of people that witnessed the kill first hand think that is a low number. You can monitor the latest status online at or

With the current warming trend fishing should continue to vastly improve as the water warms. There are a lot of big trout out there and they should get really active in the upcoming weeks.

“Catch the Action” with Captain Bill Russell