Fishingcast: Conditions for Southwest Florida, Aug. 31-Sept. 6

Bill Walsh

For your consideration, with the massive creature kill in the red tide, algae event in Southwest Florida, consider a limited take or all catch-and-release in support of rebuilding the stock. With the cool down in water and air temperature we sense a lessening in the red tide strength and intrusion all along the coast. But much too early to declare a cessation of the threat. Unfortunately, same can’t be expressed for the Okeechobee fouled water intrusion; those massive p.m. thunderstorm downpours every afternoon take a toll on water build-up behind the Lake O dams and force additional releases.

Ryan Lidski from Manhattan with a catch and released Atlantic Sharpnose Shark caught in the Everglades using shrimp for bait.

Probably a month away from the cession of the storm pattern. Of interest is the report from multiple deep-water anglers that there is an area eight- to 12-miles off Marco/Naples where the water surface is littered with dead floating fish carcasses.

The water inshore (one to four miles) and the water beyond the dead fish spectacle is, surprisingly, reported to produce fair to good fishing action. Leave the scientific analysis of that anomaly to the experts; but probably has to do with water depth and incoming tidal flow. Bottom line, hope is we’re starting to see the long awaited “beginning of the end” of this disastrous event.

General conditions this week are in the improvement mode also; the tides are of good strength both ways but without the hellacious speed of new and full moon effects. Those afternoon thunderstorms will still bring a close to late afternoon action but be of shorter duration and geographical expanse and, finally, the winds will stay mild with just a minor uptick of gusts late afternoons.

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Marco Island: Reports indicate some moderate improvement in action especially in areas that show good water flow and are rich in bait action. Pelagics (i.e. pompano and mackerel) are showing in the first hour of either tide in all three passes (Capri, Hurricane and Caxambas). They are scattered and a catch of a few is seen as a victory. Working a tipped jig on a drift close to the bottom seems to work best. Snapper are still the dominant catch along the edges of the mangroves lining the cut edges working a partial shrimp on a 1/4 oz. jig head tight to downed structure. And don’t forget the snook; season now open and they are feeding heavily on fast current points and tight to shallow drop offs working frisky pilchards after being teased with a bait shower.

Naples: Several reports of redfish beginning to show along the north edges of ICW and Naples Bay. Most action on smaller “puppy reds” that put up a good struggle. Some small keepers in mix. On freelined shrimp, pinfish tight to mangrove overhangs in last hour incoming. Snook action staying strong all along beach edges N end Keeywadin, again in last hours incoming. Good reports of 12-15” whiting west edges Keewaydin beaches on shrimp mooched on the bottom – outgoing only. Spec trout north end Canon Island cuts on incoming with shrimp on 4’ leader under popper; either drift or at anchor.

Bonita Springs: This area continues to be ground zero for repulsive fishing conditions. Even with hints that the red tide is abating the putrid fouled water from big sugar released as the frequent storm water flood the dams punishes all of the Lee County coastal estuaries. Those who are marginally succeeding are going north to the environments just north of Little Pine Island and Matlacha and scouring for pockets of clean water (bait, bird action, surface water clarity) and working the live bait into clusters of surviving fish. Several reports of good action after a scouring search for fish huddled in conditions holding bait and working bait that matches the hatch (i.e. pilchards, sardines, pinfish for snapper, some redfish and even some king size snook). Although singular suggestion in these conditions, worth a shot.  


Marco Island: Quality of water nearshore (one to four miles) dependent on phase of tide; incoming better condition than outgoing when inshore stale water arrives. Albeit, good reports of top water action early a.m. on pelagics working first, second reef spots drawing bait. Lane, mangrove snapper drawing good bottom action with tipped weighted jigs under chum. Exciting action Five Mile Reef corners on black tip sharks deep and barracuda working top water on fast troll with plastic eel.

Naples: Seeing mackerel schools early AM 20-30’ depth Pier to Doctors on tipped jigs over chum. Snook working beach edges Keewaydin to Gordon jetty early first light on pilchards post shower. Deep, look for kingfish action medium range spots holding bait schools on live runners. Deep deep for red grouper (75’) hard bottom on live bait.

Bonita Springs: General premise here, water 3/4 miles on out not effected by inshore fouled water conditions. Good action reef, wrecks spots 30’ on out working squid / cut bait for snapper, porgies, some mackerel. Super deep wrecks due west for kingfish action on tethered runners on wire under chum.

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