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NAPLES — OK, so we had a taste of winter over the weekend, and now let’s get back to spring.
With both the cold front and the full moon behind us and 80-degree temperatures returning, fishing should continue to pick up. Just before the big blow, live bait was readily available and the inshore snook and reds were obliging in gobbling them up. Some nice snook are showing up, and we even saw some on the beach while looking for bait. Depending on where you were fishing, the trout bite was pretty good from Naples down into the Ten Thousand Islands.
Other inshore creatures were being rather cooperative, too. Large jacks, up to 15 pounds, were tearing up lines and quite a few pompano were hooked, too. The sheepshead bite is slowing down, and mostly undersized fish are showing up. Tarpon were not only being seen rolling, a lucky few managed to land one of the big silver-sided beasts. With the early warming of the water and decent bait availability, the spring tarpon run should get under way big time.
Offshore, the winds really wreaked havoc with the scheduled trips. Full-day trips were either canceled or reduced to half-day trips. On the near shore runs, the catch was mainly made up of short grouper, lane and mangrove snapper and grunts. A couple of boats got into some kings in the 10- to 12-pound range. Before the weekend on full-day runs to about 30 miles, large amberjack and king mackerel were the target. The clear water and full moon put the kibosh on the mangrove bite.
Naples/Estero Bay: Capt. Jason Kaufman said that before the big winds over the weekend the water in Estero had been fairly clear and in the low 70s. He put his anglers onto keeper reds, oversized jack crevalle and some snook to 25 inches.
On one of the trips Jim Putt and buddy Jeff landed upper slot reds they hooked around the bars as well as jacks to 15 pounds. Throw in a few snook and you have the makings for a pretty good day. Jason was using live bait.
Down Naples way, Capt. Steve Sarbara says his anglers have been working jigs with live shrimp to put the hurting on sheepshead, reds, scattered pompano and even a few small black drum. The water in the back has been clearer and he has been hitting the deeper holes for his catch.
Steve reports seeing rolling tarpon on a couple of days this past week.
Ten Thousand Islands: Fishing out of Goodland, Capt. Matt Hoover said the wind was howling Saturday but his anglers still got a number of reds, including five midslot fish. He has also been getting some trout that range from 14 to 16 inches using the shrimp and popping cork method. Of course, the hoards of ladyfish won’t pass up a meal, either. Matt also has seen a few tarpon recently.
Capt. Aron Blaisdale said that on trips Monday and Tuesday his anglers got into a lot of trout and pompano. The trout were plentiful but not huge, and the pompano were running to just legal.
Before the front Aron was netting live bait and using it on some bog reds as well as snook. The big news, though, was jumping three tarpon and landing one that was in the 120-pound range!
Offshore: Onboard the “Cuda”, Capt. Mike Lucas says fishing in the wind was tough and even the close-to-shore trips could be “bumpy”.
Grunts, lane snapper and short grouper make up most of the catch, but getting into some king mackerel saved the day. Mike had his folks catching some kings to 15 pounds using live pilchards.
Capt. Mike Avion running his “Findictive” said that last week the full moon and clear water put the brakes on what had been a good mangrove snapper bite. He said this week, after the water got stirred up, will be better for the big mangs. On a full-day trip he had Bob, Christian and a friend from Europe onboard and they got into some real good fish. Using 20-pound spinning tackle they landed about 18 kings to 12 pounds and nine amberjacks to 40 pounds.