Anglers, email your photos to email@example.com or post them at www.naplesnews.com/participate and we will compile your images into an online gallery that’s featured each Thursday morning here at www.naplesnews.com.
NAPLES — This afternoon I saw a young boy of about 12 catch his first ever snook. He was fishing from a dock and when the fish hit, his level of excitement was infectious. All I know about him is that he is from Michigan and he now hooked on catching snook.
Later in the day, I noticed that an older man (he was wearing a blue shirt and a white fishing hat) stopped to help a couple of young guys get set up with their brand new pole; it still had the tag on it. It appeared that he didn't know them, but was kind enough to help.
Seeing a young person catch a good fish is a treat for both the person holding the rod and for those that help make it possible. Take a kid fishing and you really can get them hooked on an activity that can last them a lifetime. Where do you think the next batch of old-timers will come from?
Warm water, lots of bait, great weather and lots of fish — that is what we have in Southwest Florida as we enter the month of April. Activity is way ahead of schedule due to the very mild winter.
Snook are roaming the passes and beaches trying to fatten up before the rigors of mating later this spring. Huge trout are showing up in deep holes up and down the coast, and some of these monsters are running in the five- to seven-pound range. On the higher tides, the reds are lurking under the bushes and love a cut threadfin to munch on.
Every day I see more mackerel just off the beaches and in the passes, too. On Tuesday, we had reports of large schools of threadfin herring off Marco and Bonita Springs. Maybe all that bait will turn the tarpon on to eating. Lots of them are being seen, but very few hookups are being reported.
On Saturday, Seaside John and I found them in three different locations, and we had prime baits to toss their way, but no takers. Better tides are coming in the next week, and that combined with the bait buffet line just might get them eating.
Offshore, the opening of the red grouper season was a smashing success. Lots of big red grouper got an invite to dinner, and many more were released. A number of large gags were reported, even though the fishing was taking place over rough bottom and not ledges.
The reds were not particular about their source of food, either. Cut up fish of some sort seemed to do the trick. Larger pieces of bait drew larger grouper. Kings are still grabbing baits that are anywhere in the water column. These fish are running from 12 to 30 pounds with a few larger "screamers" showing up.
Naples/Estero Bay: According to Capt. Jason Moore, the tarpon are off the beach in the Estero to Fort Myers Beach area, and while there are plenty of them hookups have been scarce.
On Tuesday, he witnessed a couple of fish being fought by another boat, so maybe the fish will have a change of heart this week and start to eat.
On a recent trip with Dave Feurst while looking for tarpon, they ended up in the middle of a group of large bull reds. They landed five, with the largest being a 30-pounder. Jason has been hitting the reds on the higher part of the tides, and has been using live baits to catch them, but is using cut up baits for chum to get them in the mood.
Capt. Steve Sabara has been experiencing some of the best fishing he has seen in years. According to Steve, clear water is the key.
In the deeper cuts and holes his clients have been catching some really large trout in the 26- to 30-inch range.
Angler Mike Spiker can lay claim to the 30-incher that went seven pounds. Mike was good enough to release this big girl so she could produce a zillion eggs. Steve also has been hitting the pompano, and most of the fish are running in the 12- to 14-inch range (to the fork).
Reds are active in the backcountry, as well as some smaller snook and mangrove snapper. Larger snook are running the beaches.
Offshore: On opening day of the grouper season, Capt. Tom Robinson put his anglers on target. They kept 12 keepers that ran to 12 pounds, and released many other keeper and short red grouper. Several large gag grouper were also boated and released.
George Kershner and the Kings Lake crew were worn out, but had the making of a great fish dinner. On Tuesday while looking for some goliath grouper for clients, Capt. Tom says they got into a group of large gags that went up to 14 pounds. Some king mackerel in the 12- to 30-pound range also made an appearance.
April 1 was no joke aboard the "Findictive." Capt. Michael Avinon ran out to 85 feet of water, and on the very first drop the Bud Everet group from the Brooks Fishing Club landed 17 keeper red grouper that went to 16 pounds. During the rest of the day, they landed another six keepers and many shorts. Mike says it was his best full day ever for grouper, and it should only get better.
Ten Thousand Islands: Down Everglades City way, Capt. Pete Rapps has been encountering lots of big trout.
His anglers are throwing jig heads with a Gulp shrimp on them. Switching over to reds, Pete has his anglers using shrimp under a popping cork to coax a bit while fishing up the rivers. Most of the reds are in the 25- to 27-inch range. Snook have been scarce this past week. Catch of the week was by Kirian who helped his grandfather land a 60-pound blacktip shark.
On Tuesday, Capt. Rob Walczak had a fantastic morning, with his anglers catching upward of 200 fish! About 50 of them were trout that ran up to 26 inches, and they were eating live baits. His anglers were the Bill Burfisher group from Illinois, and they caught loads of mackerel, bluefish, jacks and ladyfish, too. Large schools of threadfin herring were reported just offshore.
If you have a report to share, email firstname.lastname@example.org.