Southwest Fishing Report: The backcountry waters of Estero Bay, Pine Island Sound and Matlacha Pass are all hot spots, right now, for big snook. Live pilchards are working best but they’ll also go after small pinfish and live shrimp under a cork. Remember, snook season is closed until September so you need to handle them carefully, take a quick photo and get them back in the water.
The flats of Estero Bay are holding seatrout, ladyfish, jacks and a few pompano but the bite is over once the sun is up about halfway above the horizon. We’ve had great success with live shrimp under popping corks along with cut threadfin herring and chunks of mullet.
The early redfish bite has also been good. Oyster bars are the place to start and moving water is a must. Small pinfish and handpicked large live shrimp will get their attention along with cut ladyfish.
The passes are loaded with mangrove snapper. You’ll have to land 5 to get 1 keeper but a limit is doable and they make for a very tasty dinner. Best bet is live shrimp on a small jig head worked slowly across the bottom. If you feel a slight bump, set the hook!
The resident tarpon in the 10 to 20 pound range have kicked it up a notch. Look for them rolling on the surface near the creeks of Estero Bay. Live shrimp under a cork has been working better than just about anything else, but don’t be shy about throwing small artificials that mimic bait fish.
Best advice is to get started early. Man, does it get hot by about 11 o’clock in the morning! Drink plenty of water and watch out for those afternoon thunderstorms.