Fishingcast: Conditions for Southwest Florida, March 29-April 4

Bill Walsh
Capt John Brossard submitted this photo of Owen Maxwell Kent with a lack tip shark caught off Marco Island. He used shrimp for bait.

The adage “March comes in like a lion and leaves like a lamb” will play out as true through Monday of this coming with warm temperatures and light winds. But then the raucous gusty winds will return for the balance of the period with gust velocities in the middle teens. Luckily the wind direction will stay easterly and save anglers from facing muddy waters once again. The air temperatures will hold steady and most likely drive the water temperatures back to the low 80-degree mark. Which will be an angler’s plus as we welcome the arrival of the spring species of mackerel, bluefish, pompano and, hopefully legions of lane and mangrove snapper. And although there is no formal end to the sheepshead invasion. You can bet that those big spawners are heading back to cooler, deeper water offshore. The tides are favorable all week with a stable morning incoming and a tad weaker afternoon outgoing. And those ripping fast full moon tides won’t be back until late April.


Marco Island: This should be a good week for action in the passes with warmer water and favorable mid-strength tides. Look for mackerel with some bluefish and jacks in the mix working the late morning flood tide with tipped flashy jigs tight to the surface. Good.  Chance the steady warmth and abundance of bait schools will have the pompano schools in action on our two Passes as well as Hurricane Pass alongside Keewaydin Beach. Pomps go for a small white or pink jig tipped with a tad of fresh shrimp attached. Mangrove snapper will once again be our staple species all along the mangrove edges working weighted jigs.        

Naples: The stretch of the ICW from Gordon Pass Junction to ICW R#48 and both sides of Dollar Bay have been providing good to very good action on smaller redfish working whole shrimp or live bait on circle hooks all along the mangrove overhangs. Great action and please carefully release. Nearby the cut on north end of Canon Island has been holding some nice trout on shrimp under popper on drift at late incoming. Late afternoon outgoing on east edges of Keewaydin beach working weighted tipped jigs just off the beaches for silver trout and whiting to good size.

Bonita Springs: Tarpon showing tip Carlos Pass West side first light incoming. Limited action on live threads to good size this early. Pompano action east edges G37 and G45 Little Carlos Pass first light incoming tight to drop offs on tipped jigs worked just off the bottom. Schools scatter quickly come boat traffic.  West of Mound Key for solid snook action tight to current points just off oyster bars. Early AM best this coming week. Mound Key east edges on both tides for spec trout working live shrimp on popper under 4’ clear fluoro on drift over grass patches.


Marco Island: Last moves of nearshore mackerel, Bluefish, jacks show further movement east (closer) as bait schools lead the way. Use fish finder to run the reef line and choose a structure with solid black bait markings. Anchor up current and get chum in the water pronto. Work action with tipped jigs up top and live runner on wire 15’ beneath. Deep action showing on first of kingfish migratory on major reefs, wrecks 15-20-mile range. Can fast troll spoons on spot perimeter running 10-15’ depth or chum and set up live runners on wire. Some cobia showing on surface same venue; keep a live thread fin hooked up surface cast

Naples: Inside, just west of Gordon jetty early first light incoming for pompanos schooling in bait 10-15 feet. Work with tipped jigs deep on drift. Gordon Five anglers reporting good to excellent results up top on mackerel, bluefish schools and just off bottom structure for good size land and mangrove snapper open weighted jigs under chum. Mid-range wrecks with significant bait holding for yellowtail snapper drawing with chum and then working with tads of chum on six-pound hooks with bail open initially. Set only after you feel the hooked weight.

Bonita Springs: As per backwater section, tarpon now in play just north and west of Big Carlos Point working threads or pinfish in the early morning fast incoming tide. Care in handling and release of these silver kings. Mid-range (20-30 miles) wrecks now seeing the kingfish and some cobia action ala the Naples Report. Both species worth the effort. Last couple weeks for the stone crab operations and the removal of the “tripletail hugging” stone crab last chance until fall to land one of these great fish. Set a lookout and you head out deep and back; sighted double back quietly and work with tipped surface jig.

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