Last Sunday's crazy weather, which included high winds up to 50 mph and heavy bursts of rain, brought an end to hurricane season and made it tough to be out pursuing our favorite game fish.
Falling water temperatures make us think of sheeps-head and trout, two other cold water period staples in South-west Florida.
Still, the passes hold fish, as evidenced by a report today of an angler catching 100-plus undersized red and gag grouper in Captiva Pass. This also is the time of year to be finding the smaller "rat" reds in our waters, especially up the Caloosahatchee River. That's backed up by several hot reports I received this past week.
Capt. George Tunison
Snook are wrapped in thermal blankets dreaming of warmer water, but still catchable in deep water basins, deeper docks, canals, creeks, and several areas in the river near any warm water source, such as the power plant.
Your angling skills and your touch will be tested for the next couple of months as you try to catch "sheepies" before they steal your bait and leave you shaking your head as you put yet another piece of bait on your hook.
A sheepshead is hard to clean and sometimes hard to catch, but well worth the effort. They are very tasty. Pick a sunny afternoon to search your favorite grass flat. Trout should be willing biters all winter long.
Capt. Dick May of Easy Rider Charters tells us to look for sheepshead along the docks of the intracoastal waterway and just inside the passes. Also, redfish along the oyster bars in the river mouth as well as south Matlacha Pass.
Capt. May will present a seminar at Cape Tool & Tackle on Pine Island Road this Saturday.
Capt. Rob Moody of SoulMate Charters reported fast pompano action off the Sanibel Lighthouse this week. Said his crew caught 15 of these tasty battlers up to four pounds. He went back Sunday and did it all over again along with bonnethead sharks up to 15 pounds.
Capt. Rob loves a yellow shrimp-tipped jig for his pompano. He also reports awesome trout fishing taking place from the mouth of the river to Picnic Island. He is catching "rat" reds (14-16 inches) on the oyster bars in south Matlacha Pass. Capt. Rob also will give a presentation at Saturday's Cape Tool seminar.
Lehr's Economy Tackle weighs in with reports of trout in Four Mile Cove and redfish up the river in the I-75 and trestle areas. They are catching these fish on artificials along the mangrove shorelines. Try MirrOlures, jerk baits, top waters, as well as shrimp. Pick a warming sunny afternoon to start your hunt.
The staff there says to hit the river mouth and nearby oyster bars for sheepshead as well as the Sanibel Causeway supports. Look for smaller snook in backwater creeks and bigger specimens at the Franklin Locks.
Lehr's offers expert tackle repair, offshore lures, and closeout specials on Loomis and Sage fly rods as well as everything the inshore angler could want.
Cape Tool & Tackle is hosting a customer appreciation day Saturday with a hog roast, rock bottom store specials and several seminars by area guides plus cast net demonstrations.
TV show host Capt. Eric Mannino and others will demonstrate how to catch fish in our area. Even seasoned fisherman can pick up a tip or two to add to their bag of tricks and help fool our local fish.
As fishing pressure increases, our fish get smarter and we need all the help we can get. This event runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Check out store specials and the expert tackle repair being offered.
Capt. George Tunison is a Cape Coral resident fishing guide. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or Flying Fins Sportfishing.