2020 Sanibel & Captiva Fishing Reports

As we begin a new decade, I’m optimistic that we have turned a vitally important corner in the management of our waters and fishery.   We are under an emergency closure on the harvest of Redfish Snook and Trout due to the severe red tide outbreak of the last 2 years.

We are hoping it will be able to be lifted by May of this year, but many are advocating for extending the closure.   I lean heavily towards catch and release fishing though I enjoy fresh fish from time to time, and understand the desire to keep some fish for dinner.

Controlling massive freshwater releases from Lake Okeechobee and nutrient pollutant runoff from fertilizers and pesticides are also a major component.   Sending water south and east as well where the south has been starved for water for too long in Florida Bay has finally come to fruition despite prior managers insistence it could not be done.

The amount of bait and juvenile fish and creatures of all types in the bay is very encouraging without massive water release killing the spawn every month.   While man can mitigate some of the impacts, Mother Nature is the ultimate arbiter on rainfall amounts.  We have been in a very wet period for some time now as El Nino has hung around but is Neutral as of now.

Noaa 3 Month forecast 1st qtr 2020

Seasonal Outlook for the 1st quarter of 2020

So Happy New Year and Decade!

Capt Paul

December 2019

Winter finally showed up with a vengeance in early Nov.  As of this writing we are on our 3rd cold front and water temps are in the low 70’s.   Mackerel, both King and Spanish are available, we had a push of Blue fish that just arrived.

Mangrove Snapper

Mangrove Snapper are biting

Redfish are here including some large schools of Bull Reds.  Black Drum, Ladyfish, Trout and a the Pompano Run is full swing.  This is a perfect time for your Sanibel Fishing Charter.

Happy Holidays & Seasons Greetings to all.

Capt Paul Primeaux

Fall Fishing is going off!

After a tumultuous Summer, finally after 2 storms, our waters are free of red tide.  And right on schedule the, fall bait run is in full swing.  Fishing this time of the year rivals spring, and some say is much better.

Inshore, the redfish that have been scarce all summer are finally here in numbers.   Near offshore, there have been massive schools of bait fish that have large explosions in them from a mixture of Sharks, Mackerel and Tarpon just blowing up in the schools.

No finessing here, anything moving is eagerly eaten.

We have just had our second cold front, (1st real one) and the water temps were knocked down to 71.2 degrees, 10 degrees in a few days.  Its warming back up fast, so call and  Book your trip now!

Capt Paul.

 

Winter to Early Spring Pattern this week Feb 14th.

After a colder and windier than normal that saw many catches of Black Drum and Sheepshead, the fronts have finally slowed from a 5-7  day pattern to  7-11 day range.  In addition they are not as intense as they were.    This has lead to water  warming from the low 60’s to mid 70-‘s in just over a week.

That’s fairly typical for water get back to a more normal temp, stimulating bait-fish to return and the  fish to feed  ahead of the spring spawn.   Valentines Day is a good reference point for temp normalization in a cooler then normal winter. Note the chart below from SCCF’s Recon site shows on Jan 31, 58 Degree water! Now into the lower to mid 70’s in just 2 weeks.

The first Tarpon are being spotted  as they begin to work their  way down from a winter stop in the River and up from the 10,000 islands and the keys.  Sharks are not far behind.

Book now for Tarpon starting  in  April through June.  Snook Season reopens March 1st and smaller ones are starting to show up in the passes now.

 

 

 

 

 

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Snook July 2017

Boy holding a snook

Snook are hitting good.

Summer time fishing has been going off big!  The Snook are going off, big and small.  Red Fish are making their presences known all around.  Mangrove Snapper are hitting good, Trout, all the cast of characters, sharks, Mackerel, Cobia, Permit are enjoying abundant supplies of bait fish.

Check Back for more frequent updates.

Book your trip now with Capt Paul!

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Shark bite is hot and improving

After a number of false starts the water temps have finally reached 80 after getting knocked back each week for several weeks.  The first big push of tarpon came in on the 18th or so.   The warm water has presented a lot of opportunities for Sharks in the Bay, as heavy persistent winds block much of the access to the Gulf for much of April 21017.

Boy holding Black Tip Sharks

First Black Tip Shark

Black Tip Sharks

Double Black tip Sharks

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Black Tip Sharks are fun to catch especially on light tackle.  They do everything you could ask of a game fish with multiple runs and jumps.

At anytime you can encounter a tarpon crashing the action.     These sharks have been running 2-3 feet but the bigger 30-40 and up to 70 lb Black Tips along with the full complement of Bulls, Hammerheads and Lemons are following the tarpon.

If you have young men in your family, the allure of sharks is a powerful one.    Here a few pics from recent trips.

 

 

April 2017

April so far has been an in interesting month in Pine Island Sound and Sanibel-Captiva area, with a whole range species, from Mangrove Snapper to Black Tip Sharks.  King Mackeral are in the gulf when you can get out to them. Tarpon in the area and eating bottom baits.

A recent cold front knocked the water temps down from 82 to 66 degrees giving the fish a bit of lock jaw while the water slowly warms due to cooler night time temps.   I had 71.5 degree water in morning and 74.5 by the time we came in on 4/12/17.  Trout is working well in the morning and Sharks and Snook in the afternoons.  Bait is pouring into the region, the water is clearing up again and its back to normal patterns vs combat fishing battling 25mph winds.

 

 

 

Mild Winter Keeping the Bite on

Permit Fish

Great Permit catch by Jonathan S.

Redfish

Boy Catching Permit

Permit!

 

 

 

 

Mild fronts are keeping the water temps in the low to mid 70’s and the bite hot.

Permit have been regular catches in the Gulf and even in the Bay. These hard fighting great eating fish are so much fun to catch on light tackle. Mangrove Snapper and Grouper are also hitting well on the natural ledges with the occasional Cobia crashing the Party. Black Fin Tuna are still chasing Thread-fin if your lucky enough to run in to them.

Book now before the weather turns and you can’t get out!

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Black Fin Tuna are moving through

Black Fin Tuna are not well known for our area, though in spring through fall they move through with the bait schools.  Your best bet for them around here is in the spring when the shrimp boats are anchored cleaning their catch where they take up with the sharks, tarpon and just about everything else looking for this “industrial strength” chumming machine.

There are other opportunities as well, they are sometimes incidental catch when trolling lures or live or cut baiting on the bottom while grouper fishing.

Here is a 25lb fish I caught while on a “research” mission to locate a wreck I used to fish many years ago, back when we had Loran an TD’s instead of GPS coordinates.    I slipped the lure over the side when approaching the last known location of the wreck an within 20 seconds the line was screaming off the reel, running off at least 100 yards of line before slowing down.

 

Black Fin Tuna

25lb Black Fin Tuna Caught off Captiva, FL Capt Paul

Now I thought this would be a King Mackerel.   However when it stopped, it did not fight like a King.   Finally after getting the fish near the boat where I could see color, I saw was a Blackfin Tuna I had been coveting and was hoping I would run into.  About 25lbs, this fish was absolutely some of the best Tuna I have ever eaten, even enjoying slivers while cleaning.

I went back to the same area almost a week later and found a school of them, they did not however like my live Threadfin or lures. You can bet I’ll be back on these asap.    Their preferred water temp is 70.5.  So keep your eye’s open if you are around bait schools, they are out there!

Update 11/7/19

Yoz-ri

Yo-Zuri Sardine colored Crystal Minnow

I’ve been asked what lures work best and live baits.  I use Yozuri plugs in sashimi color a lot. I keep a dozen or 2 on board as there are often King & Spanish mackerel cutoffs. Black and Purple or Blue is the best color in this area though anything may work from spoons too feathers.  Billy Baits skirted trolling lures are a go to as well.

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Spring Fishing on Sanibel & Captiva Islands

Finally the waters have warmed over 70 and are likely to stay above 70 this year.  With the warming temps at 74-75 the magic number for many species.  Redfish are again showing up in number, Snook is improving every day.  And the first Tarpon have pushed into the bay for the dedicated die hard tarpon addict.

I will switch primarily to tarpon around mid April as the waves of fish continue to push in.    If you’ve not fought a Silver King, your missing one of the greatest fishing adventures you could ask for.   Strong and acrobatic, we had a near 200 lb fish pull us 4.5 miles in the Gulf, a 24 ft Pathfinder with 3 people on board.  Incredible.  I’t wasn’t all “pull” we have chase to get 300 yards of line back as it kept nearly spooling us.   Not doing so would have risked a cut off by a passing boat.

One of the more interesting things this spring is the number of slot sized permit being caught, in the gulf beach zone and in the Mangroves.   Tipped Jigs with Shrimp and on a float is getting the job done.    Pompano are running near the passes, and the lighthouse Bar. Cobia are starting their annual run, Kingfish wont be far behind.  Triple Tail on the crab bouy’s, Big Trout are prowling the flats.   Opportunities abound.  The nearshore and offshore wreck and reefs are loaded with snapper, grouper and cobia.

This 4-5 week period from now forward will offer some of the years best fishing in the Sanibel Captiva and Pine Island Sound area.

Send a request with your dates below, Im on the water most days but will call you in between trips or at the end of the day.

Tight Lines!

Capt Paul Primeaux

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