Fishingcast: Conditions for SWFLA, Oct. 19-25

Bill Walsh

Sorrow and concern for folks in the Florida Panhandle that got lambasted with Michael’s direct hit. Weather fallout here from the storm’s passage was brief and minor and it appears to have left us with no residual condition impact (i.e. red tide or algae regeneration). Generally, those two marine water quality threats continue to fade all along the Paradise Coast with best to worst from south to north and inshore waters better than mid-range to offshore.


Our outlook for this coming week is promising with an overall cool down in evening and overnight air temperatures giving way to early fall conditions and a slow but sure water temperature drop. Suspect we may see water temperature drops to 80 and perhaps below by week’s end. The persistent p.m. thunderstorms will fade and the winds lighten and redirect northeast and southeast with but moderate speeds. Tides are passing through another full moon late week and will deliver a fairly balanced ebb and flood tide strength which should enhance fishing action.


Marco Island: More evidence that the tainted water quality conditions that were so evident along the northern portion of the coastline relocated bait as well as inshore fish species south to the benefit of this area. That fact continues to play out with a run-up in actual fishing activity reports here. The biggest surprise is the activity on good size (18-22”) flounder being seen along cuts and edges in Johnson Bay and along the ICW edges working a bouncing bottom rig with shrimp on sand/mud bottom. Also incredible action Rookery Bay Area and along ICW on minimally undersized redfish (all release) working shallow grass beds on whole shrimp under popper.

Naples: Warm water is keeping snook active along “favorite spot” – south edges Gordon Pass from jetty to Port Royal junction all on pilchards. This week should be special with early morning first light full moon tides. Redfish action along the ICW circa Dollar Bay creeks on the latter portion of incoming tide producing goodly numbers of just undersized redfish in sizable schools on shrimp or tipped jig under popper. Whiting to 13-15” west edges Keewaydin beach with best on good water flow outgoing early on shrimp mooched across bottom on outgoing.

Bonita Springs: Action throughout definitely on the upswing. Good bait action Estero, Pine Island Sound and out along the edges of Wiggins Pass. Seeing great snook action on both juveniles and slots working pilchards, sardines tight to cuts and edges with good current flow; a.m. early incoming best. Note: Continue catch/release on snook and reds. Pine Island Sound circa bridge spots for good to very good redfish action mid-morning high water with shrimp under popper tight to mangrove overhangs. Trout action Estero Bay’s Mound Key grass cuts and oyster bar edges on shrimp under popper on drift 4-6’ depths.  


Marco Island: Inshore action at much the same level as backwater with a ample bait and water clarity to continue to improve action levels. Mackerel, some bluefish, tons of jacks, blue runners showing all along the line of First and Second Reefs. Simple set up: chum, Jigs with wire leader tipped worked right on structure spots into good incoming AM current. Major reefs i.e. Five Mile SE and NW corners; Walton Reef off Caxambas; Naftal Reefs S of Romano for good bottom action on lane and mangrove snapper just off bottom; small cuda up top and blacktip, sharpnose sharks on bottom; cut bait with wire leader.

Naples: Offshore action 10-20 mile range on marked reefs and wrecks for top water action on kings and some cobia working live bait under chum top 15th with best on morning incoming. Seeing some massive barracuda top water major wrecks with bait on live bait on wire or fast troll vinyl eel. Reefs have better action on bottom feeders i.e. land and mangrove snapper, triggerfish and early season sheepshead; all on tipped weighted jigs worked a foot or two off the bottom. Some concern super deep with light results on commercial take first harvest stone crabs and presence of “floaters” may signal some red tide pushed offshore.

Bonita Springs: Mid-range action 8-15 miles strong on wrecks, reefs holding bait and seeing first vestiges of reverse migration (north to south) with action picking up on kings, cobia, some permit working spots with evident bait schools. Use live runners on wire leader on kingfish; sight cast thread herring to inquisitive cobia on surface and light weighted small crabs for permit. With crab pots out, beginning to see tripletail action both mid-range and deep. Set a lookout on trip out, back and, if sighted double back working tipped dark color jig to pot.

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