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NAPLES — In case you hadn't noticed the wind has been blowing rather hard for the last week. Most of that time it has been coming out of a northerly direction, which means that in addition to having some really stirred up water, the temperature also will be dropping.
While this is our first really serious cold front of the year -- and I hope we have to wait a long time for the next one -- we are beginning the transition from our warm water fishing to cooler water temperatures. Down here, we really only have the two main seasons, each marked by a transition period where we warm up in the spring and cool down in the late fall. As water temperatures continue to cool, the techniques used will change and even the fish targeted will be somewhat different.
Trout, sheepshead, ladyfish are more common when the water is cool/cold, and snook and tarpon when it is warm. Live bait will give way to shrimp in the cooler months. Snook are still around, but they don't do well in cold water and coaxing a bite can be difficult.
For now we will hope that November, for the most part, will still be more warm than cold, because warm water catching is more exciting than in the cold months.
A note about grouper: Even though the gag grouper season is ending, our red grouper season is still going strong, so once the seas settle down, get out there and look for some good hard bottom and catch dinner. There is a vote this week by the Gulf Council that will hopefully eliminate the winter closure on red grouper.
Freshwater: A big thank you to the Golden Gate Tacklebox for a fresh water report on Lake Trafford. Now is the time of year for a shot at the "Golden Gate Slam" where it is possible to land a largemouth bass, peacock bass, snook and tarpon all in the same area and on the same bait.
Get a bunch of shiners and give it a shot. With the full moon, the shellcrackers will be active, too. Panfishing on worms is quite productive, and great for anglers young and old.
Offshore: High winds have kept the offshore fleet at the dock, but Capt. Tom Robinson did manage a couple of near shore trips last week before the winds got too bad.
Fishing eight to nine miles off the sand on two different trips, his anglers were kept busy with snapper, short grouper, and grunts on the one trip, and on the other they boated six keeper red grouper. Conditions were deteriorating, and Capt. Tom says that it will take a couple of days after the wind stops for the sand to start settling out. As that happens, he expects the snapper to really turn on.
Naples/Estero Bay: Capt. Todd Geroy reports an awesome week of fishing though last Friday. Both snook and redfish have been plentiful, and more than willing to eat the live pilchards tossed their way.
Up to 20 reds per trip have been caught on the higher end of the tide, working a free-lined bait along the mangroves. Fish averaged about 23 inches, but there were some reds over 29 inches, too. Snook were to be found in many of the same haunts as the reds, with most in the 18- to 24-inch range, but Todd reports that they tangled with a number of really large fish in the 15- to 20-pound range, too.
On Friday morning, he fished with Chris Mans and his cousin Peter Mans, and the duo were kept busy hauling in reds and snook. They tied into a couple of bruiser snook that created a lot of excitement, but in the end the fish found the mangroves.
Ten Thousand Islands: Fishing on Thursday, Capt. Rob Walczak ran south out of Goodland, and fished in Everglades National Park. Using jigs and plugs, his anglers landed over 20 reds that ranged from 21 to almost 27 inches.
A couple of trout and a few snook added to the action, but the surprise of the day was the six big flounder that went for the jigs. Rob said the water at that time was still in pretty good condition, but that with this northwest screamer that will have changed. Also Capt. Walczak stated that this fall bait run is one of the best in many years.