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NAPLES — Another week in paradise!
If you are a regular visitor to Southwest Florida you know that we have pretty mild winters, but this one takes the cake. For the past two weeks I have been seeing manatees near the passes, and this is February. With the warmer temperatures we are seeing lots of bait showing up in area waters, and that should mean more hungry fish arriving to dine on the little guys.
Inshore the bite has varied quite a bit depending on location. Estero and North Naples has bee tough for the last week or so. Naples and Marco have been pretty good, and down toward Everglades City the reds and trout have been eating up a storm. The area south of Marco to Indian Key has been spotty, and the water got real dirty after the last blow.
Grouper being closed for two months limits the target species offshore. Amberjack are still willing to pull your arm off if you get on a bunch of them hanging on a wreck. Lots of keeper-sized grouper are being caught and released (I can’t believe the closure during peak tourist months). The schoolie sized king mackerel are not too far offshore and very willing to eat a bait or a trolled lure. Snapper fishing has been somewhat slow recently, maybe due to the unseasonably warm weather.
Please note that planning is underway for the third annual “Take a Soldier Fishing” event to be held this fall. This is a local event that provides a completely free fishing weekend to a number of our active service people from MacDill AFB near Tampa. They are brought down to Naples and provided hotel and meals as well as a great fishing experience.
Many local businesses make this possible. Please join in helping any way you can. Contact Steve Loyd at firstname.lastname@example.org for additional information.
Offshore: Capt. Mike Lucas onboard the “Cuda” says he has been hitting the King Mackerel this past week. Most of the fish run in the six- to 12-pound range and once you get in them you can keep busy.
In addition, a lot of nice sized grouper, both red and gag, have been chowing down on cut and live baits. Bring them up, take a look, and put them back in the water. With Gulf temperatures at 68 degrees on Tuesday, the water was a bit dirty from all the wind. Onboard Tuesday was Stan Kaufman with his sons and friends, and they enjoyed a great trip in spite of choppy seas.
Running well offshore, Capt. Tommy Robinson put his vessel “Sea Legs” over a wreck and got into the amberjack on Tuesday, but very rough conditions made it a short stay. On Sunday, Tom ran a half day that saw a lot of good sized grouper come to the boat and then make a roundtrip back into the water. Robinson also reports a lot of kings bunched up in one area. Snapper fishing has been somewhat slow the past week or so.
Ten Thousand Islands: Running out of Everglades City, Capt. Glen Poupolo has been hitting the reds and trout pretty hard on recent trips. Pompano are also showing up in good numbers on the outside flats and points.
On a recent trip John Pewter of Chicago landed a mess on nice slot-sized reds. The water quality is fair after all the wind, and Poupolo also reports that some tarpon are showing up early this year. March looks like it could be tarpon month.
On Friday, Capt. Rob Walczak had a full-day fly trip with Chris (a guide from Montana) and his girlfriend, Sharon. And what a day it was.
The landed 16 snook up to 22 inches, three reds from 20-24 inches, a nice 18-inch trout, and a number of jacks and ladyfish. Most of the fish were caught blind casting to likely target areas. They also saw some small tarpon, but no takes.
Naples/Estero Bay: Capt. Todd Geroy has been enjoying good fishing in the Naples area. The cold spell briefly slowed the snook and redfish bite, but by last Thursday things had picked back up.
His anglers are catching snook to 29 inches and a few reds and trout as well. Pompano are hitting the tipped jigs, too. On Saturday with Buck Bowen and his daughter Kerry Poole and grandson Sam they hit it hard Snook, reds and big trout were the order of the day, but it was 11-year-old Sam that stole the day with a 25-inch trout that went five pounds and, to top it off, then overpowered a big 32-inch snook to the boat.
Estero Bay fishing has been somewhat tough the past week, Capt. Steve Nagy said. Nagy has been hitting some nice sheepshead to five pounds and some scattered redfish. The reds are all in the 19- to 20-inch range and they are eating a hooked shrimp on the bottom. A few snook to 20 inches have been willing to eat a live pilchard as well as a few small trout. Mike Nagle and his daughter Julia caught big sheepshead on a recent trip.