April 16 fishing report from Byron Stout

A predicted week of cooler days should keep Southwest Florida’s fish on the feed, which has been a little off.

That’s not because of red tide, according to the state’s latest sampling report, which shows Lee and Collier counties with no, to very low concentrations of the fish-killing algae. Check the map in the photo gallery.


Freshwater fishing on Lake Okeechobee remains good, and a report this week from a neighborhood pond in Fort Myers couldn’t have been better.

Inshore anglers report moving around a bit to find fish, but they’ve been up to it.

As for offshore, “It’s been a bad week to be a red grouper,” which took some heavy hits from A&B and King Fisher charters, from Naples to Boca Grande.

COLLIER COUNTY: Rick Mercer sent in a shot of his wife, Char, and friend Rodney Harvey with a double on slot-size reds caught Saturday on live thread herrings near Marco Island’s SS Jolley Memorial Bridge.

A little further north, Luis Chavez was fishing The First National (bay) with David De Leon when a nice bluefish fell in love with his hot pink jig.

Marlee Minor, Melissa Bailey, and Emily Surbaugh were sporting spring break smiles after they got this 24-inch snook, while fishing with Denny Rager.

ESTERO BAY: Denny Rager sent in shots of spring breakers Emily Burden and Marlee Bailey, who were on a sojourn from Kentucky when they caught a redfish and a snook in upper Estero Bay with Melissa Burden.

Monday was a good day for Estero anglers Bruce Churton and Bill Schirmer, who caught oversize snook and redfish near Mound Key on their Get Hooked Charter with Capt. Matt DeAngelis. Capt. DeAngelis’ secret for getting action on a slow bite is this week’s Fish Tip.

Also on Monday, in southern Estero Bay with Fishbuster Charters Capt. Dave Hanson, John Ledman, and his father-in-law, Cort, used live shrimp to catch one keeper among a dozen mangrove snapper while releasing a dozen short sheepshead and a 14-inch spotted seatrout.

Jessie Delaplane’s 28-inch snook slurped a shrimp on Monday’s incoming tide at Tarpon Point, while fishing with her friend, Ian Keith.

CALOOSAHATCHEE RIVER: Ian Keith sent in a shot of his friend, Jessie Delaplane, with a 28-inch snook she caught with a live pinfish freelined on the morning incoming tide at Tarpon Point Marina.

SANIBEL: Norm Zeigler’s Fly, Bait & Tackle on Periwinkle Way reports southwest winds have mucked up the fishing on island beaches, but the protected waters of Tarpon Bay have been productive for trout in the channels, snook in mangrove pockets, and a few scattered redfish. There also have been big tarpon showing up around Sanibel and other barrier islands.

PINE ISLAND SOUND: St. James City Capt. George  Grosselfinger reported a tentative bite Tuesday on his topwater plugs and jigs, but enough casting to enough east side shorelines still produced two nice snook releases. On Thursday morning he reported a better bite on snook, redfish, and trout around many keys, with jigs producing better than topwater baits, in part due to lots of floating grass.

Brian Majkowski gave his grandson, CJ, a little help posing with his 31-inch snook, although the lad, a veteran angler, needed no help bringing it in. Photo courtesy Lehr’s Economy Tackle.

Lehr’s Economy Tackle sent in shots of Brian Majkowski and his grandson, CJ, with a 31-inch snook the lad caught while casting sardines to barrier island shorelines in sound’s north end. Besides some small snook, they also caught redfish last Thursday.

Ted Gadoury also was in the northern sound when he caught and released a nice snook, and he and his dad, Ted, also caught good numbers of smaller snook, trout, jacks, and a nice redfish on live sardines fished as far north as the old Boca Grande trestle.

Over on the other side of Pine Island, Chris Elkins caught seven snook to 22 inches while casting a deer hair slider in Smokehouse Bay. Wildfly Charters Capt. Gregg McKee said he also had shots at nearly 100 redfish, but as hungry as the snook were, the reds weren’t.

CHARLOTTE HARBOR: Capt. McKee also reports big tarpon “laid up” in Charlotte Harbor, where baitfish have been “everywhere. The water has never looked better and I’m looking forward to a great season.”

One of those tarpon, an estimated 90-pounder, was caught Tuesday by Sanibel angler Dee Kelly, who was fishing near Burnt Store Marina with Capt. Joe Harley, according to Zeigler’s.

King Fisher bay boat guides out of Fishermen’s Village Marina in Punta Gorda report good numbers of Spanish mackerel to 18 inches biting at the Charlotte Harbor Reef below Mangrove Point, and in the deeper water outside the harbor’s eastern bar. Inside the bar on the flats, trout and bonnethead sharks remain abundant.

On Tuesday afternoon, King Fisher Capt. Ralph Allen and his daughter, Elissa, chummed and baited in the upper harbor with live sardines and threadfins, and fired up good numbers of snook to 35 inches, and crevalle jacks to 10 pounds.

OFFSHORE: A&B Charters Capt. Jim Rinckey reported that “Bad week to be a red grouper,” emphasized with pictures of some dandies to 31 inches, and a shot of Michigan anglers Tom Swanson, Jerry Krol, and Jon Soma hoisting their grouper limits. The bite has been on cut herrings in 85 feet of water west of Naples’ Gordon Pass.

Further north, 20 miles out of New Pass, Doug Duncan and friends Gary and Eric had their sights set on tangling with goliath grouper, but despite having ideal live blue runners for bait, the giants couldn’t be tempted. ” They did, however, box some food-fish, including 10 keeper lane snapper and 10 grunts,” while releasing six red grouper shorts on squid or cut-bait, according to Fishbuster Capt. Dave Hanson.

The King Fisher offshore boat, Island Girl, made three trips to depths from 65 to 70 feet off Boca Grande Pass over the past week, catching one to three “schoolie” king mackerel to 12 pounds while freelining and chunk-chumming with frozen sardines. Bottom fishing was good, producing from one to four keeper red grouper, plus “a pile of lane snapper,” and a mix of porgies and grunts every trip.


LEE COUNTY: Gary Buttram sent in shots of Wisconsin angler Lauri Lyon with her personal best bass, a 22-1/2-inch fatty she caught Monday. And also Monday in the same condo-lined Fort Myers pond, Buttram caught a nice channel cat.

LAKE TRAFFORD: Biologists worked putting limestone rock as fish attractors around the Ann Olesky Park and Pier, but they had no explanation for a continued slow crappie bite on the Immokalee lake. Nor did Lake Trafford Marina owner Ski Olesky, who said he has never seen a year like this in his 45 years on the lake. His best guess for the crappie shutdown is weather that produced water temperatures as much as 10 degrees higher than normal. Hopefully, the coming week’s predicted cooler temperatures, with afternoon highs in the 70s, might make the specks a little happier.

Dean Dignelli’s bass tipped the scale at 8+ pounds, even without a full tail. He caught and released it out of Roland Martin Marina & Resort with Capt. Jose Betancourt.

LAKE OKEECHOBEE: Roland Martin Marina & Resort Capt. Jose Betancourt reports fishing with live shiners has been great on the Big O’s south end, with Boy Scout Cut and Bay Bottom the hottest of the hot spots. For purists, or those who don’t want to fork over the $20/dozen premium for the appropriately named golden shiners, “The artificial bite has been OK.” White chatter baits and white swim jigs early, switching to Senkos and other slower moving baits are the way to go on the south end. On Observation Shoal near Cochran’s Pass, in the Monkey Box, and along the northern shorelines at Horse Island and Tin House Cove, the best casting has been with Rat-L-Traps and chatter baits.

The crappie bite has been great in the Harney Pond Canal, and good on the West Wall, and along the Rim Canal south of the Football Field dynamite hole with both minnows and jigs.


Gary Buttrum caught this channel cat Monday in a Fort Myers pond.

Gary Buttrum didn’t report whether his smile was from winning the battle with his nice channel cat, or anticipating fried catfish fingers.


Weak tides early in the week weren’t inspiring game fish to do a lot of chasing around, according to several reports. But that didn’t slow down Get Hooked Charters Capt. Matt DeAngelis, who produced a an oversize redfish, a 28-1/2-inch snook, and this dandy 36-inch linesides for his Monday anglers. “Slow tides mean a slow bite — so make it count — use fresh cut bait for bigger fish. They’re looking for that easy meal,” the guide advises. That was fresh cut ladyfish on this occasion.


No. 1: Big tarpon have moved into Charlotte Harbor, near Burnt Store Marina.

No. 2: Smokehouse Bay for snook and redfish.

No. 3: Pine Island Sound shorelines, north to south, for snook, trout and reds.

No. 4: Tarpon Bay for trout and snook.

No. 5: Estero Bay for redfish and snook.

No. 6: Marco back country for redfish and more.

No. 7: Offshore for red grouper and tasty panfish.

Lake Okeechobee

No. 1: Tin House Cove for bass.

No. 2: Harney Pond Canal for crappie.

No. 3: Cochran’s Pass and the Monkey Box for bass.

No. 4: Rim Canal lily pads for crappie.

No. 5: Bay Bottom for bass.

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