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Pine Island Sound

Capt. George Howell
February 22, 2007
Pine Island Sound - Saltwater Fishing Report

Pine Island Sound prefishing and tournament day 2-17-07

Week ending 2-17-07

Spent several days on the water this week prefishing for the Flatsmaster’s Qualifier tournament Sat. the 17th. The tournament was for 2 redfish, artificial lures only. There were just over 50 boats, and 30 of those boats were trying to qualify for 15 open spaces on the Flatsmaster’s Tournament Trail. We wanted to win the whole thing obviously, but placing in the top half of those 30 unqualified teams was the goal, that would allow us to fish the big tournaments the rest of the season. Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday were all productive scouting days. I kept tabs on redfish I found Sat. the 10th with my partner Gary throughout the week. There were two islands in the same area that held the fish each time I stopped by. Both islands had enough water at medium tide levels, and the fish were holding up on the southern shorelines after the sun came up and warmed them. I looked over a lot of water during the week, and found a lot of nice snook! Although they would not help me on tournament day, I can’t wait to head back to those places with some live baits and try to pull out a couple Kodak moments! Covering a lot of shorelines with the trolling motor or main engine in gear can help you locate fish. Even though they will be spooked out of their hiding places, take note of where you saw them and the tide and weather conditions. This is a great way to learn new areas, and returning under similar conditions in “fishing mode” can help you catch more fish.

I would begin the tournament with extremely shallow water. It was also to be (and was!) a very cold as the tournament started with 40-degree temperatures. With these conditions ahead, I tried to locate even small numbers of reds around deep inlets and troughs that would still hold reds in low water. Although I was scouting with aritificials, rock piles in deep water and other structures were producing sheepshead only. Gary and I had a third island with deep shorelines that held scattered reds, but we could only get fish to cooperate after the sun was up warming the water after 11am or so. The fish were so consistent on our two favorite islands we decided to sit just off the shorelines until the sun and tide became high enough to get to where the fish were holding. We had no doubt the reds would be there, so we put all our eggs in one basket and wanted to make sure no one else would beat us to our spot. Even though the weather was cold, we knew there would be more boats fishing in the sound being Saturday, and we just could not bear the thought of seeing someone else on our fish. We discovered during the week that the fish were extremely spooky, and wading was pretty much the only way to get a lure close enough to them.

Early that morning we made our way through a shallow passage to our fish, and took a turn a little tight. We did not bottom out but the prop did turn up some bottom so we slowed down and made the rest of our way through the super low tide to our favorite island. With wetsuits on we waded around some potholes nearby, hoping there might be some fish held up there. With the conditions, any fish before 11am would be a bonus for us. After determining there were no fish at all in the holes. We returned to the boat and waited a couple hours until we had enough water to get the boat close enough to the right area and began wading up and down the shore. The fish never showed up in the numbers we had seen earlier in the week. Even the day before there had been excellent numbers of upper slot fish there. About 12:30 I landed our first red. It went just over 26”, a beautiful tournament fish! Under the conditions, I felt this was possibly good enough to get us qualified, and one more like it could put is in the top 5 no doubt. Gary got another red right at the bottom of the slot. But I could not buy another bite the rest of the afternoon. With a good fish in the well, we hit the hammer on the throttle at 2:30 to make it to our 3:30 weigh in. As soon as the boat tried to make it on plane the motor started screaming and Gary knew something was wrong. After a couple more attempts to take off, he realized we had spun the hub on the prop hitting the shallows on our way in that morning. Ouch! With at least 30 miles to run, and only able to get the boat up to 10mph there was no way we could make the weigh in. Gary had taken the spare prop out of the boat that morning to make room for tournament gear and lighten our load. Lesson learned, always carry a spare prop if you have one! Well, we felt good in the fact our game plan came together. We would not have placed in the money (top 10) but turns out we would have finished about 15th overall, and easily qualified for the series. That is tournament fishing for you, and we will just have to try again next year….

Weather is warming up well this week, so I expect fishing to get better every day. March is usually a little windy, but there are always places to fish out of the wind. I have a few charters lined up this week, so stay tuned to see what kind of fishing we find. Remember, the next world record may be a cast away! Capt. George Howell

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Capt. George Howell is a lifelong angler and outdoor enthusiast. Nothing is more fulfilling to him than providing others with a memorable day of fishing. His fishing buddies will agree, he would rather see them hook into that monster fish than catch one himself. There are a lot of captains out there, but I will always do everything in my power to assure that the guests on my boat have the best possible day of fishing.

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Capt. George
201 SW 38th Ter
Cape Coral, FL 33914
Phone: 239-770-5166
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