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NAPLES — If you are among those of us that may have had a little too much to eat on Thanksgiving, I have good news for you. According to the results of a study, a person burns about 230 calories an hour while fishing. Somehow I think the study needs more study. If you really burn that many calories well, then I should weigh about 130 and "that ain't going to happen."
On the fishing front, we had another little cold front just before Turkey Day, but the temperatures didn't drop much. When the wind got blowing from an easterly direction again, it produced some of the lowest tides we have had in a long time.
Up in Estero, we did see a number of dead mullet coming in the pass on the tide. If you remember in last week's article, it was reported that red tide was seen 10 to 15 miles offshore. The last thing we need right now is a severe bloom of this algae. Apparently, it seems that most game fish were unaffected.
Water clarity is improving significantly in many areas, with some becoming too clear. The clean water is sure to help the trout and pompano fishing. Both species are around right now, and numbers should increase significantly in the next couple of weeks. Big trout are usually easy to find until Jan. 1 when the season opens.
Inshore, the redfish bonanza continues up and down the coast. They are taking live bait, dead bait, cut bait, and shrimp that are fished under a popping cork or on a jig.
Anglers are seeing three distinct size groups of these red drum. Small fish in the 15- to 16-inch range, lower slot fish in the 18- to 22-inch range, and the larger upper slot (and over) fish can be found from Estero Bay to well south in Everglades National Park. They are a blast to catch, and while they usually don't display the speed that a snook exhibits, they are bulls on the end of the line.
Sheepshead numbers are improving, but not many of the larger fish have been reported. Time to get lots of practice on the shrimp stealing small ones. If you can catch these, then the big ones will be a breeze. Flounder catches are more and more common, and occasionally a dinner-sized one is boated.
Offshore, the winds have kept most boats at the dock or at least not very far offshore. The near-shore targets are grouper (usually shorts), grunts, mackerel, lane and mangrove snapper, and sometimes king mackerel. Once the winds give the captains a break, they will be back after the larger grouper found farther offshore, as well as the arm-breaking amberjacks.
Naples/Estero Bay: Capt. Tim Daugherty has been fishing quite a bit in Naples recently, and he has been catching large snook on the falling tides using white baits.
When the tide swings around, he works the incoming looking for reds, and he is getting some nice fish, ranging from 22 to 26 inches. Heavy chumming helps get the critters in a feeding mood, and even the trout start popping baits. Tim has been getting a few decent pompano using bright-colored jigs tipped with shrimp. He is working the passes and the deeper cuts near the passes.
On Friday, I had the Norris group from Georgia that included Daniel, Donald, and "Gouche," and Brandon from Tucson.
With the water so low first thing in the morning, the bite was a little slow. Ladyfish got everyone warmed up, though. As we started to get some water to fish in, we started picking up a snook or redfish at spots, but not many. Later, we finally got into the fish, and we ended up boating around 20 snook, about eight reds (two keepers), a trout, and lots of jacks that ranged from five to seven pounds.
Ten Thousand Islands: Capt. Rob Walczak says the water down in the islands is getting real clear, almost too clear in some areas.
On a recent trip, he netted some live bait that his anglers put to work on a variety of fish. They ended the day with about a dozen snook, six reds, five flounder (one good sized), three big trout, a pompano, some good jack crevalle, and of course, all the ladyfish you could ever want.
Offshore: With conditions on the rough side on Friday, Capt. Tom Robinson, onboard the "Sea Legs," got his group of anglers out about seven miles for some catching.
Action was good, using cut sardines and squid. Fish caught included short to almost legal grouper, grunts, some nice lane snapper, and some mackerel. Tom saw another boat hook up with a king mackerel, but that was the only one that day. He is looking forward to calmer seas and a return to the hot spots.