James Newlon's personal best 80-pound black grouper dwarfs his son, Jake, on their Sunday spearfishing trip off Boca Grande. / Special to The News-Press
Most of the cobia taking live herrings on the nearshore reefs off south Lee County have been shorts, but not Will Short's. He was fishing with Entice Charters Capt. Scott Theis. / Special to news-press.com
PIC OF THE WEEK
James Newlon’s personal-best, 80-pound black
grouper dwarfs his son, Jake, on their Sunday
spearfishing trip to 100
feet of water off Boca Grande.
• No. 1: Charlotte Harbor’s eastern flats for trout, pompano and bonnethead sharks on live shrimp.
• No. 2: Offshore for red grouper, best outside 65 feet, plus porgies, lane snapper and more.
• No. 3: Sanibel and Pine Island back country for snook.
• No. 4: Sanibel beaches for trout and mackerel.
• No. 5: Cape Coral canals for bass and bluegill.
• No. 6: Nearshore reefs for sheepshead and cobia.
• No. 7: Lake Trafford for panfish.
• No. 1: Turner’s Cove for bass.
• No. 2: West and East Wall areas for bass.
• No. 3: Rim Canal for crappie.
• No. 4: Long Point for bass.
Capt. Scott Theiss reports cobia, like this keeper caught by Will Short, have been biting live herrings at the MAY and GH reefs off Big Carlos Pass. Chumming with live herrings, including scaled sardines and Atlantic thread herrings, is a great way to get all the pelagic species on a reef fired up. Crippled baitfish draw in not only cobia, but king and Spanish mackerel, and mangrove snapper and gag grouper will rise up from the bottom to gulp their fair share. Extra-longshank hooks will prevent many bite-offs from the big mackerel, and they’ll draw more strikes than wire leaders, when used with monofilament or fluorocarbon leaders.
Dreaded “two-tide days” over the weekend produced a slow daytime bite. But those days are gone, and the bite has been on.
A sure sign of spring — always earlier than the official calendar in Southwest Florida — is the run of pelagic species including cobia and king mackerel, now underway.
Sunday’s full moon likely will mark the peak of this year’s sheepshead run, which has been good.
A burst of pompano action this week in upper Charlotte Harbor has been exceptional.
Snook are beginning to bite well as water temperatures rise, and some have started moving out to the Gulf beaches.
Sharks have followed mackerel and other migrants into local waters, like it or not.
Freshwater fishing has been reported good on all fronts, including Cape canals, creeks, and lakes Trafford and Okeechobee. Some spots even offer a supper slam of bass, bream, crappie and catfishes.
The Charlotte Harbor Reef has been good for mackerel and sheepshead, but King Fisher bay boats out of Fishermen’s Village report the hottest action on the eastern flats. Trout have been biting well, with as many as 15 pompano, plus bonnethead sharks have been taking shrimp under corks.
Capt. Gregg McKee reports lots of big, but very persnickety snook at the southern end of the Burnt Store Bar, where nice trout and reds and have been more cooperative.
PINE ISLAND SOUND
The back country creeks of Pine Island and Sanibel have been the best bet for snook, including some from Wildlife Drive (closed Fridays) in the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge. Robbie Wilson and Jerry Geraci caught snook to 10 pounds on suspending MirrOdine and Sebile baits in St. James Creek, according to Lehr’s Economy Tackle.
Snook have begun moving onto the beaches, where Norm Zeigler’s Fly, Bait & Tackle also reports trout and Spanish mackerel biting well, particularly near dawn and dusk.
FORT MYERS BEACH, BONITA BEACH
Capt. Scott Theiss reports cobia and sheepshead biting well at the MAY and GH Reefs. Farther offshore, Fishbuster Charters Capt. Dave Hanson’s parties have been catching red and gag grouper, hogfish and lots of porgies.
Pick a canal, any canal, according to Cape Tool. Bass have been biting a wide variety of artificial baits, and bluegills have begun biting well on live worms.
Hayden Cummins and his pal, Eric, caught a mess of warmouth and bluegills on jigs, and a mix of 15 channel cats and buttercats (yellow bullheads) on cut baits from the Fisheating Creek Campground last weekend, according to Lehr’s.
Crappie fishing has continued good at Lake Trafford, where Kentuckians Gary Brewer and Mr. Bill caught their limits with jigs, plus a mess of buttercats Tuesday. Bubba Blalock and Frank Tanner also used jigs for a catch of 26 Tuesday, and Tony Louden caught his limit last Thursday.
Bluegills also have been biting, and Lake Trafford Marina reports an angler caught and released a 5-pound bass this week on the Immokalee lake.
When it’s not been too windy, pitching Gambler Why Not critter baits into reeds has been great, all around the lake, according to Clewiston Capt. Mark King. In the wind, it’s been best to go with live wild shiners, with the Turner’s Cove area of Observation Shoal, the East and West Wall areas at the lake’s south end, and Kreamer Island’s Long Point notable for big numbers.
Crappie anglers have been filleting a lot of specks from the lily pad patches along the Rim Canal, southeast of Clewiston.