Fishing Report: Conditions, water clearing up after Isaac

LARRY REGIENCZUK

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— Conditions have certainly improved considerably since last week's report. Light winds, mostly from the east, have helped to let the water clear up.

Offshore, you can find some nice blue water, and close to the beach you can see the bottom in two to three feet of water. Inside the bays, the water quality will vary depending on where you are. Some of the rivers are still draining dirty water into area waters, but much of the inside waters have good, fishable water.

While temperatures have been getting into the 90s, the water temps are actually running somewhat lower. Low to mid 80s for surface temperatures means a good bit cooler in deeper holes and cuts, and of course offshore. On the news tonight, they even mentioned the chance of an early season mild cold front.

With the seas having calmed down, runs well offshore are possible again, and the grouper are out there and quite willing to eat a bait. If you get out in the 30-plus-mile range, you might even hit some amberjack hanging on a wreck. Carry a crab or two in case your targeted wreck is home to some hefty permit. As with the amberjacks, if you get one on, keeping them off the wreck is quite the challenge.

Closer into shore, look for the schools of bait that are once again popping up and work them for mackerel, jacks, ladyfish, and even large sharks. If you see some birds working some bait, don't run right into them if you want a chance at a fish. Either set up to drift into the pod or use a trolling motor to get closer. Zooming in at full throttle pretty much guarantees that the fish will be gone.

Inshore, the return of the bait means that the bite is back on. Snapper are everywhere, and some of them are running well over two pounds. They are eating live bait and shrimp readily, though the small snapper can go through a dozen shrimp in about 10 minutes. Try around docks for some of the larger ones.

Snook are still pretty much an early morning target. By mid-morning the heat seems to shut them down some. Reds, jacks, and ladyfish seem to be less affected by the warmer temperatures. Look for moving water, and this is a time to try some of the deeper cuts and channels. Try a splitshot -- just enough to get your offering to the bottom -- in these spots, and you might be surprised.

Coming up in November is the annual RedSnook tournament that is sponsored by the Conservancy which uses the money raised on local projects that help in many areas that benefit anglers. For more information or to sign up, go to www.conservancy.org/redsnook.

Offshore: Capt. Tom Robinson ran a couple of full-day trips recently. The "Sea Legs" ran out of the Gordon River and headed west for about 30 miles, where the first drop was made. On board was the crew from the Fan Depot.

While snapper was the targeted species, they did have a good number of pesky, grouper-eating baits. By the end of the day, they had a mess of snapper to 20 inches, a gag at 31 inches, and red grouper to 29 inches. For excitement, they caught several sharks, including a four-foot Atlantic Sharpnose and an eight-foot nurse shark.

On Sunday, Capt. Tom took out Mike Dearmon and a friend, and conditions were great. Light seas, clean water and hungry fish made the trip a great success. Besides limiting out on red grouper to 28 inches, they tangled with a bunch of amberjacks up to 30 pounds, and big jack crevalle in the 15-pound range. A nice, 20-pound permit rounded things off.

Ten Thousand Islands: Conditions are much better this week, reports Capt. Aron Blaisdell out of Goodland. Aron ran a couple of trips this week, and he said that while the water on the outside is still dirty, once you get in the back, you can find good fishable water.

Small beach baits have returned, and Aron is using that and live shrimp for bait. He states that the shrimp are once again good sized, and the reds are loving them. He is getting his reds in the back, and they generally are running in the 21- to 30-inch range. Ravenous snapper seem to be all over, and a limit of keepers is not hard to come by. A few small snook are being caught as well.

Naples/Estero Bay: On Friday, I fished with Geoff Shepard and Bill Hickman in Estero Bay. Bait was tough to come by that day, and when we finally got enough, the fish seemed to have eaten well under the bright night sky. We did get a few snook and a couple of jacks, and one really nice-sized flounder, but the day was not great.

Monday, Hickman and I gave it another shot, and what a difference a couple of days makes. Bait was fairly easy, and in no time we had two live wells full. Snook and snapper seemed to be much hungrier than on Friday, and we caught a mess of each. The snook were all in the 20- to 27-inch range, and when hooked really pulled hard. Snapper to 2 1/2 pounds were brought in as well. We even caught an 18-inch red.

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

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