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NAPLES — Since Sunday, we have had winds out of the south or southwest, and a fair number of showers and thunderstorms that put a damper on local fishing. Prior to that, the nice easterly winds had allowed the water to clean up nicely, making for much better conditions. This system is supposed to hang around until sometime Thursday, and by Friday things should improve for anglers.
As we start the transition into fall fishing, we will enjoy the large schools of bait that will attract numerous predators for us to catch. Water temperatures already have fallen to the low 80s, which helps the inshore bite substantially. Snook are beginning to move to the backcountry and away from the passes.
Look for islands and oyster bars in the current for both snook and reds. The reds should become more plentiful as we get closer to October, and be on the lookout for our annual visit from the big, over-sized reds that come our way about that time.
Bait, once the wind dies down, should be plentiful along the beaches, and filling a live well should be relatively easy. On Friday, I only had to throw one time to fill two wells with pilchards. That is the way it should be all the time! If you do get plenty of bait, don't be stingy on chumming with them. Not only will you find out if there are fish where you chum, you actually get them in a feeding mood.
We are starting to see more and more mackerel on the outside and in the bays, too. Mixed in with them will be ladyfish, and jack crevalle. A jig thrown out into a feeding frenzy and worked kind of fast will surely produce some action. If the mackerel are really aggressive, you might want a small piece of light wire for leader.
Offshore fishing was good before this wind, and will be good again once things settle down. Don't forget that we only have a few more weeks of gag season left. It will close on Oct. 31. Reds continue to be the most reported offshore fish, but a number of good snapper catches were reported in the last couple of weeks.
Ten Thousand Islands: Fishing out of Everglades City, Capt. Jeff Legutki has been doing well throwing artificials and flies. Snook fishing has been impressively good the last month, according to Jeff.
He has had anglers boat a good number of fish in the 10- to 12-pound range. A lot of those fish hit surface plugs early in the morning. Later in the day, he has been using jigs and jerk baits, which have worked well on reds and snook. Most of the reds are nice upper-slot fish, proof of good growth since last year, Legutki said.
Despite less than ideal conditions on Monday, Capt. Legutki took out Greg Roth for a fly fishing trip. High winds and dirty water may have slowed them down, but Greg landed about six snook to 26 inches, and four reds to 25.
Naples/Estero Bay: On Friday, I had Rick Pohill on board, along with his son Ethan and friends Luke and Ross. We fished Estero Bay and, as mentioned earlier, the wells were filled with bait.
At the very first spot on the first cast, Ethan hooked up with a snook and so went most of the morning. The group landed about 20 snook, one slot red, and several feisty jacks. The highlight of the trip was a nice 35-inch snook landed by Ross. It scaled 13 pounds. Ross had another monster on, but it won the battle.
Offshore: No recent trips by the offshore fleet. Boat repairs and windy weather are the cause, but they will be back on the water this weekend.