Fishingcast: Conditions for SWFL, Jan. 11-17
Forecasts predict an unremarkable weather week. Rather placid conditions void of any precipitation and just a blast of stronger winds for just a 48-hour period early week. Thus, generally, the water will stay clean with mainly mild winds emanating from the east and north.
Air temperatures will hover between low 50s early morning and escalating to the high 70s come late afternoon. Water temperature should remain stable between 68 and 72 degrees dependent on your distance offshore. The tides will be remarkably weak with the morning incoming predicting less than a 12” movement on the morning incoming which bodes poorly for fishing activity. On a positive side there is no indication of any precipitation forecast this week.
Marco Island: With a week of unremarkable weather, we should have a continuance of fair to good backwater fishing in and around the island. The sheepshead has already made their annual invasion and the bite should remain strong especially in the deeper water spots adjacent to structure (pilings, docks, etc.). You’ll want to pick spots where some current is running. With the continuance of warm water, mangrove snapper of size is still feeding. Weak tides may negatively affect the pompano action which has been moderately strong; give it a try, however, at the early AM tide in Capri and Caxambas Pass.
Naples: Reports of strong redfish action all along the ICW from the Port Royal junction to the north entrance to Rookery Bay. Most of the action is on just undersized reds. Fun to catch but please continue to release all. Good action reported on good size black drum along the north end of the Keewaydin docks working cut fiddler crabs tight to structure. Several reports of spec trout action on the north end of Canon Island working shrimp under popper on incoming. Pompano in Hurricane Pass in the first hour of the morning incoming tide working a tipped jig just off the bottom on a drift.
Bonita Springs: Moderate to light winds this past week have kept the inshore water clean and, thankfully, void of the fouled waters from the Big Lake. Reports of big sheepshead early are frequent. Seems the winter season was accelerated by the change in the weather last month. Good spots for that action along the east edges of the Big Hickory Channel working cut fiddlers or shrimp tight to barnacled structure. Seeing nice trout action adjacent to the Mound Key grass bottom working shrimp on a four-foot leader under a popper on a drift. Some pompano early just off Carlos Pass on first of incoming water with tipped jig.
Marco Island: With the docile wind and cleaner water seeing good bottom action on the nearshore reefs from the South Seas complex south to the Walton Reef. Expect to see sheepshead as dominant with a good percentage of keeper size fish. With the water warmth, both lane and mangrove snapper are still active. Mixed in now nearshore are triggerfish as well as unexpected porgies. Deep look for a continuing bite of kingfish on the deeper wrecks - work them with a live blue runner under chum. Still one of the best seasons ever for tripletail that can be found on the surface adjacent to most any stone crab marker.
Naples: East edges of the Gordon Five Mile for take home sheepshead mixed in with late season lane and mangrove snapper with shrimp worked just off the bottom. Couple reports that mackerel are still active in and around the Pier on tipped jigs after good chum effort. Deep (25-plus miles) hard bottom work live pinfish tight to the outcroppings on a drift for red grouper. Most undersized but some “take homes” in the mix. Mid depth wrecks that are holding bait for yellowtail snapper with morning incoming tide best. Freelined tads of chum in a strong slick will draw action.
Bonita Springs: Still getting reports of “dead zones” where oxygenated water is scarce. Sense is that the problem is weakening and sliding west. In nearshore waters still seeing good bottom action on squid et al under chum; snapper, porgies and sheepshead dominant. Super deep action on hard bottom for red grouper working live bait tight to the outcroppings on a tidal drift. Most reds are undersized yet. Try same domain with live bait working 15-20’ off bottom near structure for gag grouper with improved chance of take home size. Enroute keep lookout for tripletail hovering on stone crab markers. On jigs up top.
Capt. Bill Walsh owns a charter fishing business and holds a U.S. Coast Guard license. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.