Southwest Florida anglers were blessed with better weather last week. This allowed offshore anglers to get into the Gulf waters and find patches of bait from the passes out to about 40 feet, with several species of fish.
All working the bait were Spanish mackerel, jack, bonito, ladyfish and bluerunner.
It's a good bet the anglers working the bait in deeper water locked into some kingfish.
Reports from Charlotte and Lee counties were turned in, with some nice catches of kingfish. Many of these fish will continue to work their way south into our waters.
As you know, we have enjoyed some mild weather so far. This is very good news because the kings will be moving south slowly, allowing Collier County anglers a better shot at them.
I get questions about the kingfish fishery. The most common one is, "How would you compare the numbers of kings now to years ago?"
That is a no-brainer. During the '50s, they were so thick they would move so close to the Naples beach that we would have some nice runs off the Naples Pier.
Sometimes they would get just close enough we could see them working the bait. Yet they were just out of casting distance. We would set out heavy tackle with floats, then free spool the bait until it reached the kings.
The hooked kingfish was then worked back to the pier very slowly while someone would begin to toss buckets of fresh dead minnows into the current. This would start a chain reaction of the kings following the hooked fish closer to the pier, where the other anglers could get their bait to them.
We tried to have two or three kings hooked up constantly to keep the action going. This method attracted other species, including larger mackerel, barracuda, cobia and permit.
I do not think that happens much anymore. The kings have been fished very hard and the numbers are really down from days past.
Bottom fishing has been, and will remain, difficult for grouper grabbers to find keeper-size grouper.
You may have noticed that I say "grouper," not just "red grouper." Between the giant goliath grouper and an ever-increasing number of anglers arriving in Collier County, it is a good bet we will be witness to the nearshore bottom fishing getting worse.
Our only hope for saving the nearshore fishery is the thinning out of the GGG and building many more nearshore fish havens, some of which closed to any fishing of any kind.
The largest complaint of my idea is, how would you police it? This question has forced me to rethink my idea. Here is what I came up with: The closed areas would be few in number, but large enough to keep adding non-polluting solid waste on them for many years. Just two or three areas dotted along our coast would make it easier to patrol.
Anglers would get a pamphlet with the GPS numbers of the sites with their boat license and/or their fishing license. Every first offender should get a warning, and then a heavy fine on the second offense.
The repeat offenders could have their boats and tackle confiscated.
Our inland, outer shoreline, flats and passes should be offering anglers a nice menu of species, including snook, redfish, mangrove snapper, pompano, ladyfish, tarpon from 15 pounds to in excess of 60 pounds and trout.
Trout are now closed through December. They must be released in the southern region of the Gulf.
Fishing the early morning hours during a good swift tide should prove productive as long as the warmer weather lasts. Otherwise, the midday hours might be a better choice.
Marco angler and Realtor Wright Taylor reports the Coastal Conservation Association fishing tournament was another successful event.
First place went to Matt McLean and Kevin Cardillo with two reds totaling 11.73 pounds. Second went to Chris Turner and David Taylor, with two reds totaling 11.17 pounds.
Third place went to Terry Metzger and Rob Will with two reds totaling 10.39 pounds.
The mystery fish was pompano. No team came in with one, so the pot will roll over into next month's mystery fish division.
The next tournament is set for Dec. 3 at Calusa Yacht Club & Marina in Goodland. You must be a member of the CCA, but you can come early, join the CCA, sign up for the event and fish it.
The entry fee is $40 per boat with up to three anglers per boat. There is also a charge for the boat ramp and mystery fish.
Red Stier produces and hosts the Anglers Outlook TV show at 7 a.m. Saturday, Comcast channel 8. The show is replayed Mondays at 6:30 p.m. on Comcast channel 35. Questions or comments may be directed to email@example.com or 172 Trinidad St., Naples, FL 34113.