Fishing Report: Be ready for a battle if you tangle with an amberjack

LARRY REGIENCZUK

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— On Tuesday, the winds finally died down somewhat, and that made for easier fishing both inshore and off.

The inshore bite has been pretty good even though the water temperature dropped into the upper 50s on Friday. We are still seeing good live bait availability, and there is a lot of small bait in the bays, which is keeping the fish in an eating mode.

The normal snook, reds, and amberjacks are now being supplemented by flounder, drum, and mackerel. Spanish mackerel are to be found just outside the passes and well into the back as they follow the rivers of bait on an incoming tide. These mackerel are nice-sized, ranging up to three pounds, and when they hit it is at 90 miles per hour.

Larger jacks are also roaming the bays, and when one of the big boys hits you may have to raise anchor and chase the fish or risk being spooled. On Tuesday, I had an angler named Peter tangle with a fish that weighed in at 12 1/2 pounds. Pound for pound, they are the strongest inshore fish around.

Offshore, the winds had curtailed some of the trips, and those that did get out stayed closer to shore. Red grouper are still around in good numbers and willing to eat a cut sardine.

By the way, as mentioned last week, the two-month closure for the red grouper has been eliminated, but we don't know when the rule will be implemented. Hopefully, it will be prior to Feb. 1, but it may start after that date.

Ten Thousand Islands: Capt. Rob Walczak fished on Saturday with Steve Murray from Islamorada, and they did very well on snook and reds. Rob was using jigs tipped with shrimp. He started the day with 10 dozen, and used every one of them by day's end.

Over 25 snook and 35 reds fell for the jigs that were worked around bars and mangroves. Most of the snook were in the 18- to 20-inch range, and the reds ranged from shorts to fish well in the slot. With the cooler water, Capt. Walczak also found a half-dozen nice trout, three black drum in the five-pound range, and some snapper. Water quality was good, but the tide was a weak incoming due to the strong east wind.

Naples/Estero Bay: On Saturday and Sunday, I fished Estero Bay and Wiggins Pass with Earl Brinker, "Big Fish" Fred Clayton and his son, Fred. Other than some pretty strong easterly winds, everything else was great.

We started off early with two wells of nice pilchards, and the rest was history. Saturday, the guys landed 34 snook and six reds as well as flounder and trout. The largest red was 6 1/2 pounds, and the rest were smaller, but in the slot.

Most of the snook were in the 16- to 22-inch range with a few larger mixed in. Some of the jacks were pretty good-sized, and the largest we managed to land was 8 1/2 pounds.

Sunday was a repeat performance, with a few more snook than on Saturday, and another half-dozen nice reds. In spite of the wind, the water was not bad, even though we started out with a 58-degree reading on Saturday, which improved to 66 by Sunday.

Offshore: Capt. Michael Avinon took the "Findicator" on an offshore run on Saturday for a half day. He stopped at the head pin and made one through for bait, and with the baitwell full, headed out to about 12 miles.

Once in the area it was a king mackerel blitz. The fish were eating up the live pilchards, which were fished on 20-pound spinning tackle. At least 30 kings were brought to the boat, and they ranged up to 12 pounds.

For a real workout, a goliath weighing in at about 100 pounds was brought boatside and released. Capt. Michael reports that the red grouper are still plentiful and quite willing to eat cut herring or squid. He also reports that there is spotty red tide inside of seven miles.

If you have a report to share, email captsnookus@hotmail.com

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