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The change in seasons is quickly obvious these past few days. Summer conditions are passé. Early this coming week we fall victim to our first real fall “front” as it surges in out of the west with moderate wind and periods of rain. All good for fishing as it signals a change to nature and a change in our fishing opportunities.

Water temperature has already changed. At writing we are now recording morning water temperature in the low 70s which then edge up a bit during the heat of the day hovering between 75-77 as we reach early evening. You’ll see in the sector reports that follow that is the change agent that enhances our opportunity for more species available and, hopefully, more placid conditions devoid of things like red tide and algae contamination.

It’s also a week where we change our time basis back to standard time; from Sunday on, it’s back to standard time which will give the early risers a break with daybreak timing. Finally, the moon will be headed to full late week and delivering a strong tide week but with only moderate speed both ways. Even the winds behind the front stay moderate with only some moderate gusty PM’s come late week.

BACKWATER

Marco Island: Reports show that the clean water conditions continue to improve and so does the fishing results. Typical to fall weather seeing dramatic increase in redfish in spots like Johnson and Rookery Bay working as schools over grass flats during the early incoming and moving to shallow edges as tides go high. Bait of note is live shrimp on 4’ leader under popper worked along mangrove overhangs. Also beginning to see strong action on black drum. These favorites are of good size (16-20”) and worked along backwater drop offs with shrimp pieces on weighted rigs mooched slowly on bottom. Also great table fare.

Naples: Reports this week focus on improving activity on sea trout. Showing early AM incoming deeper cuts Gordon Channel with shrimp, live bait worked to bottom on drift; then as tide shifts to outgoing moving to flats circa Rookery Bay, north end cuts north Canon Island and going for shrimp under popper 4’ leader on drift. Favorite pompano are spotty action in faster clean incoming in both Gordon Pass and Hurricane Pass early working a tad of shrimp on a white jig to just off the bottom. Summer snapper stay hot action and to good size along most waterway edge structure; either tide; shrimp on medium size jig head.

Bonita Springs: Clean water conditions seem to be holding; some concern N of Charlotte Harbor. Redfish action; both tides red hot Matlacha Pass, Bridge spots; best early a.m. late incoming; shrimp or live bait tight to edge overhangs with shrimp / live bait. Spec trout reports strong circa Mound Key (Estero) bars and Island grass bottom cuts on drift 4-6’ with shrimp under 4’ leader and popper. Most catch now in slot size. Snapper strong most mangrove edges; both tides; now to +12” on shrimp on jig head. Surprise; seeing few major size sheepshead deeper holes east edges Big Hickory Channel on cut crabs on structure.     

NEARSHORE, OFFSHORE

Marco Island: Clean water, water temperature chill down a positive here. Inside, Mackerel et al active in good size bait schools all along First, Second Reef structure. Taking tipped jigs worked swiftly above a strong chum effort. Also, good close in target is snook on west beach edges Cape Romano to Caxambas late a.m. incoming on live bait post shower. Offshore; Early migrating kings, cobia, permit on major wrecks, reefs holding bait - on live bait under chum. Tripletail noted as “best ever” congregating on stonecrab pot markers, on surface and falling for small tipped, dark color jigs on surface.

Naples: Inside, try working Keewaydin beaches on last of full moon incoming for snook working surf line with pilchards post shower. Same venue area, off Keewaydin houses 20 ft. bottom action with tipped jigs on 12-14” mangrove, lane snapper. Outside beginning to see more activity on reverse migration pelagics - deep wrecks with bait for kings primarily on live runner on wire under chum; cobia on sight cast thread herring on surface; permit on freelined small live crab into chum. Tripletail thick here also and jumping on sight cast tipped on surface tight to crab pot marker.

Bonita Springs: Good water conditions immediate area continue; some concern north circa south Tampa but east winds should hold current favorable action. Inshore reported very good MAY reef east edges for good size, late season mangroves and lane snapper working tipped jigs to bottom under chum - big sheepshead also showing here. Mid-range reefs, wrecks for retreating yellowtail snapper on wrecks working freelined chum bits on small hooks into slick with bail open to delayed set. Tripletail action unusually hot here same as other sectors.

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

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