Southwest Florida Fishing Report: Anglers finding success at all depths

Will Geraghty
Special to the Naples Daily News

Here in the region, the fishing grounds have been busy both shallow and deep. A rather benign pattern has taken hold during the early part of the day with light winds and smooth seas. However, all bets have been off as the afternoons have been active with weather forcing anglers to stay vigilant keeping an eye to the sky.

For inshore enthusiasts, the light easterly wind component combined with a smooth Gulf has made the waters gin clear, especially during the last half of incoming tide phase. To combat the clear water, savvy anglers will employ several stealth tactics to increase their catching opportunities.

Hook sizes can be scaled down, eliminating any terminal tackle such as barrel swivels and using liberal lengths of fluorocarbon leader will often level the playing field when targeting gamefish in the clear water. Additionally, minimizing deck/anchor noise while increasing casting distance will keep the fish on the feed and less likely to retreat to nearby cover or adjacent deeper water.

Previously:Southwest Florida Fishing Report: The early angler catches snook, tarpon, and red grouper

More:Southwest Florida Fishing Report for week of July 5: The action is as hot as the weather

Out on the offshore arena, anglers have been making successful runs to the horizon and beyond. With charter/recreational red snapper season in full swing, the conditions have been ideal. Anglers cashing in on the red snapper bite are finding the best action is taking place in water depths deeper than 150 feet. 

At that range, hard bottom areas and small rock piles are holding schools of the popular reef fish along with bonus catches of scamp, black grouper, mutton snapper and a scattering of mahi mahi and blackfin tuna at or near the surface.

Closer to shore, select wrecks and artificial fish havens have been active with fun catch and release barracuda and shark. Casting or slow trolling brightly colored tube lures have the acrobatic barracuda fired up while chunk baits floated and sent to the substrate have not lasted long before blacktip, brown sandbar and bull sharks move in for a quick meal.

Offshore: “Early departures have us making full day runs with success," said Capt. Brandon Lawson. “Out deep, red snapper have been biting along with limits of grouper.”

Pointing the bow of his Port O Call Marina based Solo Lobo, Lawson has been selecting areas of natural hard bottom located in water depths ranging from 150-165 feet. Employing a variety of cut/live bait and metal jigs, Lawson’s angling groups have stayed hooked up to red snapper, red/gag grouper and several bonus mutton snapper catches.

Naples/Estero Bay: “We have been departing the dock early to bait up and beat the afternoon weather and heat," said Capt. Pat Gould. “Overall, the action has been good within the inshore waters of Naples and Marco Island.”

Gould has been concentrating his guiding efforts within area passes, around residential docks and near current swept island points. Exclusively casting live sardines rigged on light wire circle hooks, Gould has managed to keep his anglers tight to hard-charging jack crevalle, snook, mangrove snapper and a scattering of redfish.

Ten Thousand Islands: “The best action has been early before the heat of the day settles in or late in the day after the storms have passed," said Capt. Chris Sommer. “Snook have been very active along with a variety of other exciting species.”

Early in the fishing day, Sommer can be found gathering live bait to include threadfin herring, pinfish and sardines out along the beaches and just offshore around artificial structures. Armed with a well full of offerings, Sommer has been prospecting nearshore artificial structure, deeper mangrove points and select docks during both phases of the tide.

Taking his angler’s bait has been catches of snook up to 39 inches, jack crevalle, blacktip sharks and hard-charging goliath grouper. All of Sommer’s light tackle catches were photographed and released to thrill another day.

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Anglers, email your photos to and we will compile your images into an online gallery that’s featured each Thursday morning at Do not submit photos of fish caught illegally.