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The holiday week ahead will continue the weather spiral from superheated to real fall conditions. Expect mornings with real feel air temperatures from the high 50s to mid-60s and then the gentle warm up (generally rain, storm free) into the high 70s mid-afternoon. Suspect that the water temperatures which are tickling 80 degrees as we start the week to drop quickly at least eight degrees by late week. That will keep fishing conditions about the same as last week with just a smattering of winter species beginning to show up. But the devil this coming week will be the gusty wind, that come late weekend will be pushing twenty mph from the git-go. That will affect the backwater water clarity and general sea conditions offshore. Only favorable factor, as those gusts arrive is that they will emanate from the east which is the best for action in all three sectors. Elsewhere, we have a good tide week with reasonable water flow both ways with tides ranging from 1.5 ft. to just over 2.0 ft. both ways. Only concern should be the afternoon gusty winds, so pick your fishing time judiciously this week.  

BACKWATER

Marco Island: Thankfully the water condition has stayed clean and free of contaminated issues back here and as a result we have enjoyed some early fall action. Most of which remains on “summer” species i.e. snapper, mackerel, pompano etc., with just a sprinkling of the winter species beginning to show and feed. The action on the holdover warm water species has been strong in the backwater Bays (Johnson, Rookery, Addison) working the mangrove edges with good tidal flow with shrimp, live bait or shrimp tipped jigs. Still seeing good snook action as the temperatures are holding in their range.

Naples: Numerous reports on redfish action from Gordon and all along the ICW to the south Rookery entrance. Having moved off the beaches, the snook, to good size, are also showing in basically the same venue. Bait of choice on the reds is shrimp on fluoro leader under a popper; snook is their age-old favorite of pilchards on circle hook post shower. Both species were racked up hard during the red tide, algae dilemma; admire and release if possible. Good action on pompano continues at Gordon Pass and Hurricane Pass. Work first and last hours of either tide with small white tipped jigs right to the bottom.

Bonita Springs: Foremost for this area, the water is staying clean. With the (hopeful) end to storm deluges, there has been a decline in releases from Lake O and the red tide has moved far offshore with the strong prevailing east winds. Snook are essentially off the beaches and showing in the waterways and waterway tidal cuts on either tide. Good size to snook. Redfish action hot north circa Matlacha bridge and surroundings and taking live pins worked tight to mangrove edges late incoming. Back in Estero reports of good spec trout action circa Mound Key bars and cuts on shrimp under popper with incoming best.

NEARSHORE/OFFSHORE

Marco Island: Some impact with the early morning chill down and PM gusty winds. Close in still having late summer action on pelagics (mackerel, some blues, jacks) on the close in reef structure working flashy tipped jigs over chum. Occasional kings, cobia show feeding as they transit south – winter reverse migration. Pompano active on tide turns off Tigertail to Sandollar during tide change periods. Work with small tipped jigs 10-15 ft. tight to bottom. Offshore (conditions permitting) for southbound kings, some cobia on mid-range wrecks holding bait. Tripletail stay hot action on many crab pots in 40-60’ on tipped dark jig.

Naples: With water temps back up to 75-80 seeing snook back out along beaches Kice Island north to Keewaydin on incoming with pilchards et al post shower. Late summer lane and mangrove snapper east edges Gordon Five Reef; tipped weighted jigs into chum. Few first big sheepshead showing same venue on shrimp, cut crab on vertical drop; soft lift technique. Super deep due west Gordon Pass (70’) for borderline keeper red grouper inching inshore working live pinfish tight to structured hard bottom on tidal drift. Morning incoming will be best this week.

Bonita Springs: Most water staying clean; some question west of 60-70’ depth. Mid-range reefs with bait evident drawing southbound pelagics (i.e kings, some cobia and permit). Draw with serious chum effort and take with live bait tethered at 15-20 ft under float or (with cobia) sightcast live threadfin, pinfish on surface. Banner season on tripletail sunning adjacent crab pot markers. Keep lookout on trip deep; TT’s will be sunning on surface; double back quiet; work with small live bait or tipped dark color jig to surface on light tackle.

More: On The Hook: Sportfishing’s winter incursion

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

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