Fishingcast: Conditions for Southwest Florida, August 24-30

Bill Walsh

The lingering effects of the fouled water along the Southwest Florida coast accentuated by the incessant national press coverage has put a damper on recreational fishing that could well be considered an overreach in territorial scope and intensity. Reports on fishing action and results in the territorial sections that follow will depict differing levels of the water quality issues as well as chances for near normal angling success. As you will see, the factors of location, tidal activity and time of day all play a role in having a successful fishing trip in these trying times.

As far as predicting a timetable for abatement of these historically poor conditions, that will be dependent on the rollout of fall weather conditions here and the hopeful absence of impactive tropical storm intrusion.

Christina  Kraus with a six-foot bull shark caught in the Everglades using mullet for bait.

As to other general weather conditions this week, the mornings will be a tad cooler and clear but look for a continuation of those late afternoon/evening scattered t-storms. The winds will be dominant east and southeast of single digit strength but with some gusty p.m. periods post weekend. The tides will be at full moon strength and should clean water infusion on the afternoon outgoing. Water temp will dip just a tad to 85-87 range.

Final point: With traumatic fish kill and loss of many breeders, suggest voluntary zero or minimal keepers, all species.                                                            


Marco Island: Located on the southern end of the effected red tide, algae intrusion, from Marco south through the Thousand Island islands, there is good chance for action but you must actively seek clean water. Three factors: Tidal movement of water in areas where there are adjacent deep water drop off; Sighing surface bait action with sea birds present and working; clarity of surface water. Suggested action spots; Rookery Bay adjacent R#22, Hurricane Pass east edges, Marco River north of R#24 shallows. Good action now on sizable mangrove snapper mixed in with undersized “first of the season” puppy redfish. Pelagics showing Capri Pass incoming (clean) with tipped jigs on drift.

Naples: Ditto on using the three factors in finding clean water. Good early first light incoming at Gordon Pass jetty for snook action on pilchards worked to rip rap. Tease first with bait shower. Naples Bay docks east side early strong incoming for snook on pinfish, threads tight to structure. Rookery Bay both tides. Flats 4-6’ Henderson Creek area for redfish later tide. Caution: 18” minimum; softly release pups. Hurricane Pass late p.m. outgoing tight to edges Keewaydin beach for whiting, bottom shrimp rigs. Try Canon Island north flats on fast incoming sea trout in 4-6’cuts.

Bonita Springs/Estero: Area here hardest hit with proximity of Caloosahatchee contaminated spill. Limited action north of Cato Costa and north end Pine Island early first light incoming snook along beach edges on pilchards, sardines circle hooks. Note: Snook season opens Sept. 1. Some noted action also on east edges Pine Island flats 4-6’ working live shrimp 4’ leader under popper for sea trout. Small tarpon active Carlos Pass west to sea buoy, early, on pinfish post bait shower. Stretch south, Wiggins Pass strong incoming with live threads / pinfish first morning hours for snook just off breaker line on live bait.


Marco Island: Unusual but well-defined anomaly. Off Marco clean water one to three miles. Severely limited action west eight to nine miles then widespread surfaced dead fish. Move west; clean water 15 miles with reasonable action. Probable causal factor coastal deeper current pattern. So good chance pelagic action tight to Capri, Caxambas Passes with jigs over chum Bottom action Five Mile Reef snapper on weighted jigs under chum. Some sharks, barracuda southeast corner same venue. Deep for kings, cobia on wrecks holding bait.

Naples: Best water south, southwest. In close would work both the north and south Keewaydin Reefs in 20-25’ for top water mackerel and blue with big jacks in mix with tipped jigs over chum. Lane and Mangrove snapper with occasional sharp nose shark working bottom with cut bait, tipped weighted jigs under chum. Deep pattern of workable areas should be the same as Marco. Start circa 15 mile reefs, wrecks. Live bait under chum for kings and attracting surface cobia. Bottom action for lane, mangrove snapper with weighted jigs under chum.

Bonita Springs/Estero: Suggest deep water activity here. Clear four to five miles and water unaffected by inshore conditions. MAY reef for close in bottom action and deep for improving red grouper action in 60-65’ due west hard bottom with live pinfish on drift. Super deep wrecks hold big (35#) amberjack with live bait worked vertically into wreck structure.

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