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Fishing good despite nasty wind and rain

Capt. Rob Modys
February 14, 2016
Fort Myers - Saltwater Fishing Report

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The weather and water quality issues have been the headline for the previous week. An abundance of rain, very windy weather and cold temperatures have all plagued anglers and has made finding fish a challenge. But it's not impossible if you are willing to work at it. The forecast calls for warming weather and a drop in rain chances. That should make fishing considerably easier as we move toward the end of February. Let's face it folks, winter fishing has always been a challenge in Southwest Florida compared to the good ol' summertime and this winter has proven to be one of the toughest.

Capt. Greg Stamper of Snook Stamp Charters said that a week of windy days made for some interesting fishing. Between the cold fronts, charters were shuffled around and his clients still got out a few times to catch fish. Throughout the week he moved around a lot to find areas that gave better shelter from the winds. That helped find the redfish, seatrout and sheepshead with the trout and sheepshead being the goto's. Redfishing in the back bays, although sparse at times, did come into play in areas that had deep drops. The redfish were laying up on warmer flats where they can slide into deeper water when disturbed. Shrimp and cut baits worked best with smell being key when fishing the silty water. Working soft baits slow and low, like DOA shrimp or swim baits, also got results if you put time into working shorelines and oyster bars. The local waters have had some issues over the past week with freshwater being dumped down the Caloosahatchee river and a bit of red tide showing up a few miles offshore. Water quality will most likely be key as we fish through this next week and salinity levels are lower than usual. Finding cleaner water and areas with good tidal influence should be an anglers best bet.

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Capt. Jon Fetter of Catching The Cure Charters noted that the dirty water in addition to the cold, windy weather has made for tough conditions for anglers the past week. The key to locating and catching fish has been to find cleaner water. There, anglers will find spotted seatrout willing to take live shrimp under popping corks or jig heads tipped with shrimp bounced along the bottom. Remember to work baits slowly through the water and low in the water column. The cooler water makes the fish sluggish and they won't chase anything moving too quickly. Capt. Jon said to be sure to try artificial baits like curly tail grubs or paddle tail grubs on small jig heads.  Root beer, chartreuse and watermelon red were his colors of choice. There are also plenty of sheepshead out there. They are mixed sized and anglers might have to go through a few shorts to find the keepers but the bite will keep ‘em busy.

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Capt. Steve Sewell of Hawgwild Charters said that he hated sounding like a broken record (the older readers will get that statement) but the offshore bite continues to be the best it has been in 30 years. The water has cleaned up and multiple varieties of snapper and grouper are biting unbelievably well on any kind of bait, including artificials. Be patient and pick the best days to travel out in the Gulf and you'll most likely be rewarded with an excellent fishing / catching day.

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Capt. Larry Hendricks of Tall Tails Charters said that the dark freshwater continued to flow down the Caloosahatchee River from Lake Okeechobee. Between wind and rain his trips were limited over the past week, but his phone has started ringing again thanks to the nicer weather. Despite the conditions, the lower areas of Pine Island Sound were still giving up a lot of sheepshead and a few redfish. Those looking for spotted seatrout needed to put a few more miles on the boat to get to the clearer waters north of the power lines near Chino Island. The bite had been good there on bait under popping corks. 

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