Sign In | Create an Account | Welcome, . My Account | Logout | Subscribe | Submit News | Home RSS

On the Water: Full moon sparks some good fishing

August 31, 2016
By Capt. Bill Russell , Island Reporter, Captiva Current, Sanibel-Captiva Islander

A full moon brought strong tides over many days that helped offset the summer heat as anglers reported overall good fishing.

Inshore, you are likely to catch a mess of snapper about anywhere, from mangrove shorelines, open water areas and, of course, around structure. Often they were found in good numbers on the grass flats (both shallow and deep) when concentrating efforts around sand potholes or mottled bottom. Once a few show up, the action can get better and better. With a good tide movement chumming can help. Live shrimp, small pilchards or pinfish, dead or alive, and cut bait worked best fished on a small circle hook and light fluorocarbon leader.

If the water is relatively clear, dropping down a 10 to 20-pound leader is often necessary to fool the bigger fish. Snapper were biting in Captiva and Boca Grande passes on the slower stages of the tide while drifting small baits bounced over hard bottom. Near shore and offshore structure, including ledges and man-made reefs, yielded snapper in good numbers day and night. Anchoring up current with a chum bag deployed then dropping light rigs with shrimp, pilchards or herring back into the chum worked for limits of fish, with many well over 2 pounds. Again, the lighter the leader the more bites.

Article Photos

One way to protect yourself from the summer sun is to cover up. While visiting Captiva Island, Nat Dover of Jupiter, Fla., caught and released this 29-inch snook along the beach of Cayo Costa State Park while fishing with Capt. Bill Russell.


Also offshore, way offshore, gag grouper and amberjack were reported. Gags were found over structure, often small areas barely visible on the screen, in depths from 90 to 135 feet. Live bait often out fished dead, with live pinfish, squirrelfish, grunts, blue runners and big thread herring working best. Amberjack were caught in depths from 100 to 150 feet over larger structure on the same live baits used for grouper. A few gag grouper of legal size were also caught closer to shore over ledges west of Captiva in 30 to 50-foot depths, plus red grouper over hard bottom on 60 to 80 feet of water.

Inshore, water clarity varied dramatically throughout Pine Island Sound, Matlacha Pass and Charlotte Harbor. In north Matlacha Pass and Charlotte Harbor the water was actually fairly clear, just dark tannin stained from recent rains. In Pine Island Sound, in some areas the water was very clear, especially near Redfish and Captiva Passes and in other areas; especially on the east side it was often very dirty. Strong incoming tides helped clear the water throughout the day.

Along with snapper, the redfish bite was consistent on both sides of Pine Island and the bay side of Sanibel. Anglers fishing natural baits found fishing under the mangroves on the higher tide stages best and those sight-fishing shallows preferred the beginning of the incoming tide in the mornings. Schools of larger reds were reported across Charlotte Harbor moving along the bar drop-offs. Shallow water flats outside Pineland in the upper Sound and north of Galt Island in the southern Sound held singles, doubles and schools of several dozen reds feeding just as the tide began moving in. Most anglers fishing reds under the mangroves found cut bait easily out-fishing anything else. Fresh pinfish, ladyfish, mullet, crabs and shrimp worked for fish up to 28 inches around Islands in north Matlacha Pass and throughout the Sound on both the eastern and western sides.

Snook up to 30 inches were also caught and released while chasing redfish around Charlotte Harbor, and good numbers of snook were reported along the barrier islands on both the gulf and sound sides.

Watch for birds working over bait schools for potential fun fast action. There is a lot of bait along sand bars and grass flats with a variety of predator fish foraging. It's common to hook mackerel, bluefish, trout, snapper, jacks and, of course, ladyfish all mixed together, giving you a bite on about every cast. Also, if you get in this type action there is a good chance a big blacktip shark or two are also hanging around. Get out a heavier rig, don't forget the wire leader, and rig it with a small live ladyfish or jack, if a shark is hanging around you should know pretty quick.

If you have a fishing report or for charter information, please contact us at 239-283-7960, on the Web at or email:

Have a safe week and good fishin'.



I am looking for:
News, Blogs & Events Web