Winter showed itself briefly last week. This week I’m afraid it’s the real thing. Mid weekend the winds will kick up and the thermometer will begin to drop. Will be nice and clear and partially sunny but for the anglers the forecast starting then and through the balance of the week is cold morning temperatures and east and northeast wind, running at 10-15 but gusting over 20 mph for the week.
For those with angling aspirations, it will be difficult with kicked up water that, typically will cloud up in all three fishing sectors and, obviously, produce some rough sea conditions offshore. In all of that, one favorable factor, the direction is all out of the east and northeast. Had it been west or northwest, it would have been a virtual shutdown of all fishing activity.
The 60-degree mornings ahead will also show up in a declining water temperature which is desirable to enhance the invasion of our traditional cold winter species here. Could look for very low 70-degree water temperatures late week which might even tumble into to the 60s.
Elsewhere, we will be coming off an early week “weak” new moon which will produce unusually weak tides both ways all week. That has to be considered a poor factor especially post new moon. Check the best hours in the tide cycle this week before you start the engine.
Marco Island: General conditions remain positive here. Moderate wind and low frequency of storms this past week have kept the water fairly clean especially in the Capri and Caxambas Pass and connecting waterways. Have seen action in both venues on pelagics i.e. pompano, mackerel and jacks especially in the first hours of the incoming tide. Not surprisingly, the dip in the water temp has attracted the first of the bigger sheepshead and they have assembled along the Marco River docks. Redfish are staying very active in the deeper backwaters (Addison Bay, Johnson Bay) and going for shrimp under popper on incoming.
Naples: Hint of cold has moved the snook off the beaches and into the deeper and more condition friendly backwaters (i.e Naples Bay docks, Rookery Bay) but they are still summer active on pilchards post teaser bait shower. Hurricane Pass proper is seeing pompano and a few mackerel working the first of either tide deep working tipped jigs just off bottom; keeping motion in bait is important. Some bigger sheepshead and black drum providing action south entry circa #R22 Rookery Bay on either tide working tad shrimp, cut crab tight. To bottom on soft lift technique.
Bonita Springs: Water continues to clear (clean of red tide, algae) and action continues to move to early winter normal. Seeing strong redfish action Estero’s east edges mid-day high water working shrimp / live bait under popper tight to mangrove overhangs. Also redfish action staying season strong Charlotte’s Matlacha Pass, Bridge spots. Reds schooled over bottom grass and most active late incoming. Seagrass patches circa Estero’s Mound Key for spec trout incoming water working whole shrimp under popper on drift. Clean water here; use downsized fluoro carbon leader.
Marco Island: Stable conditions here will change with wind expectation this week. Wind direction will be east, so tight to beaches will be reasonably flat. Inshore First/Second reefs provide top water action on mackerel, some bluefish, jack crevelle with tipped jigs over chum and second-hand bottom action on chum drawn lane and mangrove snapper working tipped weighted jigs. Inside reefs, Five Mile, Walton and John Dee for mid depth action on Spanish mackerel with chance for Big Tunney working chum and tipped weighted jigs on wire leader.
Naples: Snook action off beaches and circa Gordon Pass jetty slowed. Most action moved inshore. Will be some pompano action Gordon and Doctors Pass venues on mid-morning tide turn with tipped small white jigs worked into first water movement. Several reports of season size sheepshead showing on east edges of the Gordon Five Reef working shrimp/cut crab on soft life technique. Offshore seeing clean water with good action Yellowtail snapper on wrecks, Tripletail on crab markers out to 30 miles; some questions on water quality beyond that point.
Bonita Springs: Continued cool down this week will enhance the probability of totally clean water. Inside action best circa MAY reef complex; east edges for keeper size lane and mangrove snapper working weighted jigs under a serious chum effort. Top water chance in the same venue for pelagic action (mackerel, bonito, jacks etc.) working tipped jigs over a good chum effort. Deep water wrecks have serious schools of yellowtail snapper. Work structure with tads of chum on small hooks freelined into a chum slick on incoming tide. Triple tail action holding good on crab pots. Set lookout underway and double back if sighted.
Capt. Bill Walsh owns a charter fishing business and holds a U.S. Coast Guard license. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.