Fishingcast: Conditions for Southwest Florida, Dec. 6-12

Bill Walsh

Looking at an opening winter week with some hurtful western winds but with generally moderate temperature and those two together generally schedule conflictive positions. Half of the boats want to get right out there regardless of the roused west wind conditions. The other half are intent on missing the mal de mer offshore party.

Add to that the numerous reports by Marco sea coast residents complaining about the red tide masses of dead fish landing on the coast. That, too, doesn't endear the rental seasonal residents as to the winter scene here.

Have a scattering of half decent catch reports in the back waters working the deeper cuts with good tidal flow and somewhat protected from that westerly wind that cuts like a knife. The morning incoming tide cuts through those first light waters as it tumbles inshore with plenty of imbedded bait heading inshore to feed on what may be available.

Good to very good reports to those stalwart anglers who brave the early morning cold darkness. A host of reports on good pompano and action and teaming with aggressive permit on the run inside. Also inevitably, the bigger sheepshead are showing in the edges of the three passes -- just a few of the big guys at and it’s a start. Water temperature will be hovering in the low to the mid 70s and tad warmer than we had here last year -- another good sign. Hope springs eternal!


MARCO ISLAND: If the west wind cooperates, have a fair chance of working that early morning incoming tide as it picks up steam at first light. Should be pelagics in the first wave of arrival heading inshore for assembled bait on all three passes. Equipment best would be working tipped small jigs on light wire leader just off the bottom -- the wire just in case there is a cadre of Spanish mackerel in the mix and running deep. Mid tide would suggest moving back into Addison Bay and into the coves for possible action on resident black drum and arriving sheepshead working shrimp rigs tight to the bottom in edges with good tidal flow.

NAPLES: That west wind will have roughed up the Gordon and Hurricane passes, so might be better to cut further inside and try both Rookery Bay and back to Henderson Creek environs. Good chance with the water temperature still sitting in the low 70s that there could be snook action on the mangrove corners working available live bait into the current cuts as the incoming picks up speed. Later, make a run north and see what the Dollar Bay creeks have to offer. Good chance as the water flow on the incoming matures you’ll find some redfish working the mangrove overhang edges as the tide finishes.

BONITA SPRINGS: What a difference a year makes. Reports all throughout the Estero Bay and down to Wiggins Pass report great action “on everything.” Last year this whole area was “fish Death Valley” caused by the red tide that centered itself. Reports show that has changed. The bad red tide water is more dominant south of Lee County along the Collier coast. Anyhow, good reports on mackerel off Captiva Pass; snook in Estero on artificials; redfish in Pine Island Sound on live shrimp; trout and redfish in the cuts at Matalatcha. Bottom line: There is no bother here this year from the red tide.

Capt. Bill Walsh owns a charter fishing business and holds a U.S. Coast Guard license. Send comments to