Fishingcast: Conditions for Southwest Florida, August 10-16

Bill Walsh

With special marine warnings posted on most every media for beach and water conditions – for red tide and algae infiltration – it’s difficult to even consider fishing. But the reality is that the Southwest Florida coast stretches some 50 miles and the severity of conditions differ over that stretch.

From Marco Island through North Naples the evaluation of the threatening conditions, as substantiated by tested water samples, are defined as mild. From reports received, healthy fish are still being caught. Unfortunately, as you move north the test samples show heightened amounts of red tide spores and the presence of algae. Fish are still being caught in that domain but to a limited degree.

Bryan Flores of Naples with a recent big catch. Send your photos to

Hopefully the whole issue will evaporate as we move into the heart of summer and aggressive weather.

This week will feature a new moon bringing super strong tides over the weekend. The winds will be mostly east and south with a couple post weekend blustery afternoons. The water temp will vary from 86 to 90 depending on the depth and current flow.  


Marco Island: Working clean non-spore and algae water is the key to success here now. Look for spots with good water flow that is holding bait marring the surface. Another key is black skimmers working the surface. Passes are showing spotty activity on the stronger incoming tides on pompano with a few smaller permit in the mix. Work on a drift with tipped jigs. Mackerel in Capri and Hurricane Pass with flashy jigs under liquid chum on a drift or 4kt troll. Major target is bigger snapper showing all along shaded mangrove edges on shrimp; either tide.

Naples: Still seeing snook from Gordon’s to the “junction” along the south side waterway edge from first light to early morning working pilchards along the drop-off. Note: Snook season opens Sept. 1. Puppy reds are showing right on schedule; try the Dollar Bay creeks (either side) towards the mid-day high tide with shrimp under popper. Careful release please. Mackerel in Hurricane Pass in clear water with flashy jigs tipped.

Bonita Springs: Tough go here but not impossible. Change launch sites if possible. Info received that areas like Matalacha are producing fair results in areas of cleaner water where there is good tidal flow. The flats and associated drop offs are in the Turtle Bay environs also holds promise. Fish not yet impacted with the dangerous conditions move just like we do to cleaner water. One of the best tell tales is the presence of working black skimmers working the pilchards and sardines.......your target fish are laying deep and feeding from the same assemblage of bait.


Marco Island: Have experienced the fouled water lessens as you move nearshore and offshore. Still a degree of fish “shortage” close in but that dissipates as you travel south or west. In close: look for pelagics (i.e. mackerel, bluefish and companions) working the major inside wrecks and reefs. They will be close to surface on the morning incoming and suckers for a well presented tipped jig pulled through a heavy chum slick. Snapper to well past keeper size will be prowling the bottom structure and jumping on a weighted jig. Deep: Most exciting target would be permit on the USAF towers SW of the island working a small live crab; freelined in a moderate chum slick. Plus have reports of red grouper in a resurgent effort in 50-60ft hard bottom taking a live pinfish. Worth checking out if you’re deep anyway.

Naples: Stay on the south end of the territory (less fouled water in the FWC samples). Inside the east boundary of the Gordon Five Mile Reef have pelagics (mack’s, blues, et al) that will chase a fast-moving tipped jig worked through a serious chum effort and with a chunk of fresh live bait on the bottom you’ll have an opportunity with a sharp nose or blacktip shark. Deep been having good experience with kings on mid-range wrecks that hold bait. In the same area on significant wrecks holding bait have a good shot at yellowtail snapper with freelined tads of shrimp freelined into a serious chum effort.

Bonita: The serious inshore effect of fouled water is partially mitigated out here. Reports, here to, of red grouper activity in 50-65’ hard bottom with a live pinfish worked tight to the bottom on a tidal drift. Reds have a minimum take size of 22”and the daily limit is two fish. Deeper we have continued action of good size kingfish working live runners on wire under chum.

More:On The Hook: When fishing’s outlook goes negative