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Friday September, 22 2017
What We Catch
Redfish Redfish
Redfish are one of Southwest Florida's top game fish. They can be found from the open gulf and passes, to water so shallow that their backs are exposed. Pine Island Sound, Sanibel, and Charlotte Harbor have some of the best grass flats for finding schooling redfish. Redfish mature in the backcountry shallows until they are around 3 or 4 years old, which puts the fish around 8-12 pounds. At this point the fish move offshore to spawn. The average fish is around 4 or 5 pounds. They can be caught on a variety of natural and artificial baits. Redfish are tireless fighters, capable of long powerful runs. These runs are most enjoyed on 8-12 pound test line, saving 15-20 pound line for the passes and offshore. Late summer and early fall are the peak months for schooling fish, but redfish can be caught all year round.

Snook Snook
Snook are one of the most exciting game fish anywhere. They can be caught anywhere from brackish rivers, the open gulf, and all points in between. The majority of the fish caught are under the 26 inch slot, but they make up for their lack in size with head shaking jumps and drag screaming runs. The prime snook season is during the spawn, which runs spring through fall. Different skills must be employed depending where the snook are being caught. When fishing in the grass flats of Pine Island Sound and Charolatte Harbor for linesiders, it is possible to use line as light as 8 or 10 pound test, but when the structure becomes thicker so should the line. Twelve to twenty pound test is usually adequate for most situations. Snook season is open from February to the end of April, and September to December 15. Even though the season is closed, the summer is one of the best times for catching snook along the beaches of Sanibel and Captiva, twenty and thirty fish days are not uncommon.

Trout Trout
Speckled trout are one of the most abundant inshore game fish in the state of Florida. These fish can be found almost anywhere you fish in Southwest Florida. Trout are a schooling fish, when one is caught there is likely to be more. Trout eat a variety of baits, but one of the most exciting ways to catch a trout is on a top water plug. Fishing a live shrimp or baitfish under a popping cork is about as sure a thing as you can get. The average trout caught will be in the lower end of the 15-20 inch slot.

Tarpon Tarpon
Tarpon are the premier game fish in our waters. The silver king will challenge every aspect of your fishing skill. Southwest Florida has the premier tarpon spot in the World, Boca Grande Pass. The pass has thousands of tarpon pushing through each spring and early summer to spawn. The problem is that this is no secret, and the pass looks like a mall parking lot during Christmas in prime season. Luckily we have other options. Redfish and Captiva pass offer shots at tarpon depending on tidal flow, as well as the area around the Sanibel causeway. Tarpon can also be targeted in the open waters of San Carlos Bay, Pine Island Sound, and Charlotte Harbor spring through fall. Spring though early summer, and once again in the fall, tarpon migrate up and down the beaches of the Gulf of Mexico. These fish are spotted rolling from a distance. Once spotted the anglers then move in on trolling motor power to present a bait to the fish. Top baits include threadfin herring, pinfish, and crabs.

Tripletail
Tripletail are one of the strangest looking and best eating fish in the water. They can be found hanging out under crab trap buoys, markers, and just about anything that floats. Tripletail will eat almost any bait you can get in front of them. They may seem like an easy target, but they take full advantage of their surroundings. Hooking them is the easy part, keeping them on the line is the problem. Tripletail use the buoys, ropes, markers, or anything they can to get you wrapped around or broken off. Fishing for tripletail is unique in itself. It usually consists on running the beaches of Sanibel, Captiva, and Cayo Costa, crab trap buoy to buoy looking under them for signs of fish. When fish are spotted, you take a wide circle and proceed close under trolling motor power. This is feast or famine fishing. Some days you see ten sometimes none. Conditions have to be right, and when they are this can be a nice change from the flats.

Cobia Cobia
Cobia are full time residents of Southwest Florida. They migrate north in the spring and south in the fall along both coasts. Cobia can be caught almost anywhere. Gulf wrecks, open bays, and backcountry grass flats can all hold cobia. A popular method of cobia hunting is running from marker to marker dropping baits as you go. The minimum length for cobia is 33 inches. Tackle depends on where the fish are spotted. When spotted in the open, line as light as 12 pound test is adequate, but for the most part 15-30 pound is ideal. Cobia are wonderful on the table, so it makes sense to use tackle suited to the surroundings you are fishing.

Sheepshead Sheepshead
The striped bait stealer is a better name for this light tackle target. A tasty by catch when fishing for other species around docks and pilings. Sheepshead can be a challenge due to the local they are extracted from. During some of the winter cold fronts, sheepshead are about the only thing willing to bite. A variety of crustations are their preferred food, with a shrimp or fiddler crabs being the best baits.

Mangrove Snapper Mangrove Snapper
Mangrove Snapper are another tasty by catch when fishing docks pilling, and pot holes. They can also be caught along hard bottom in the gulf and by drifting the passes. Small baitfish and shrimp are the preferred live baits. Mangrove snapper make great light tackle targets, and their meat is delicious.

Grouper Grouper
There are a variety of grouper available in our area. The most commonly caught is the gag. Mostly considered an offshore species, juvenile gags mature in the bays and deeper grass flats, which make them a light tackle possibility. Slot fish are rare inshore, but still a possibility.

Flounder Flounder
Flounder are a bottom dwelling fish found in a variety locations. Passes, backwater bays, beaches, and anywhere there is hard bottom are some of the many spots flounder can be caught. Once again, flounder are not usually the target species, but are a welcome addition.

Permit Permit
Mostly associated with sight fishing in the keys and tropics, but spring through summer permit can be found over the near shore wrecks and reefs off Sanibel and Captiva by the hundreds. Permit fishing in Southwest Florida is a feast or famine affair. Some days you will see tails all over and others not one. Conditions are the number one factor when targeting permit. Calm sees and light winds are a must.

Pompano Pompano
Close relative of the Permit. Found in inshore and nearshore waters. Beaches, grass flats, and passes good spots to start looking. Usually not a target species, but when found, they make great light tackle targets, and are wonderful on the table.

Spanish Mackerel Spanish Mackerel
Mackerel may be encountered under bait schools in the gulf, the bays, and anywhere in between. Fights consist of fast runs and occasional jumps. Their meat is good fried, broiled, grilled, and smoked. A variety of artificials resembling baitfish work well, and live sardines are hard to beat.

Black Drum Black Drum
These fish are caught around oyster bars, docks, and structure, usually while targeting another species. Close relative with the redfish.

Jack Crevalle Jack Crevalle
Jacks may be encountered anywhere you fish in Southwest Florida. Pound for Pound one of the hardest fighters in the water. These fish generally run in schools, which can make them easy to see and catch due to the thrashing water they create while feeding. Not as glamorous as a snook or redfish, but almost as fun to fight and catch.

Ladyfish Ladyfish
Often called the poor mans tarpon due to their drag screaming runs and jumps. Can be encountered almost anywhere, but are most often caught under bait schools or while drifting the flats for trout. Fun to catch, and as an added bonus, they make great redfish bait.


 
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