Fishingcast: Conditions for Southwest Florida, April 12-18

Bill Walsh
Sarah-Marie Smith and Kayden got this blacktip shark to the boat using mullet for bait. It was caught tagged and released.

 It’s “in and out” weather time as winter and spring pass like two ships in the night. We start another week with super-heated conditions with afternoon real feel temperature close to 90 degrees, with light to moderate dominant easterly breezes with some moderate gusts come afternoons and all of that should be “keen” for our anglers’ backwater or offshore. Then the worm turns late week and the winds turn around and go westerly with rough gusts all day predicted at anywhere from 15 to 25. That turn of events conjures up pictures of fouled muddy water and some rough water especially in the offshore environment. The water temperature now which is key to delivering the bait schools with our spring species in pursuit will probably rock back and forth as the two parts of the week’s weather clash. Probably have a backwater water temp of 77-78 degrees just after the weekend that will tumble back 5-7 degrees with the wind and upheaval late week. The tides for the week, too, are a bit different. Early week both tides are predicted to be super weak at less than one foot of movement in six hours. But then as we near full moon on the 19th you’ll be looking at tides more than three feet three feet each way. You’ll probably want to work the first and last hour of the latter.        


Marco Island: Anticipate a continuance of arriving spring species in the coastal and inland backwaters. Seeing some mackerel schools in all three passes but move around quite rapidly as they chase the massive schools of bait surging back and forth. Suggest late week to focus on working those passes in the first and last hours of each tide; tipped flashy jigs on wire in the top water for mackerel and smaller tipped jigs to the bottom for pompano with some small permit in the mix. Backwaters for snapper all along the mangrove edges; Addison Bay cuts for very late season sheepshead and same venue for some big black drum /also trout

Naples: Warm temperatures and good water movement midmorning should translate into good snook action this week. If you get moving early your beat the boat deluge in the Gordon waterway; start later then best venues would be Rookery Bay north sector working cut edges just off a drop off. All pilchards for bait post bait shower. Redfish, with some size now in the creeks both sides of Dollar Bay with fresh whole shrimp under a 4’ leader and a popper; no weight with best last hour of high-water incoming. Hurricane Pass first and last hour both tides with small tipped jighead to bottom on drift for pompano, possible permit

Bonita Springs: Water will stay clean; that is, if we don’t get an early start to the rainy season. Lots of talk about Lake O algae but not much action! Getting good action all through Estero and on up to south edge Ft Myers. Spring/ early summer huge bait schools drawing pompano, mackerel, snapper, flounder all through the Bay. Channels east edge Big Hickory producing good action on pompano and some small permit just where the sand meets the drop off. Action up toward the Matlatcha Bridge edges and cuts showing good action on both snook and redfish (please release)


Marco Island: Good tides late week and excellent timing with the high-water midmorning. Suggest working both Capri and Caxambas Pass in the last hours for pompano at the junction areas where Pass water reaches Gulf. Easy rigging - just a tipped jig worked to the bottom. Otherwise nearshore “follow the birds” to the mackerel schools roaming the 15-30’ depths. Can anchor up and use chum to draw or check for surface action with frantic bird action on the perimeter of the fray. Small tipped jigs on wire work both places. Reefs (Walton, Five Mile) for bottom action - retreating sheepshead/some snapper. Big cut bait to bottom for sharks.

Naples: Reports of solid action on wall to wall mackerel Pier to Doctors on either tide. Technique preferred with so much schooled bait in the water is anchor up and chum. Work surface with rapid retrieve tipped jigs on wire leader. Expect some small bluefish in mix as well as scattered little tunny. Bottom action on east edges of Gordon Five with weighted jigs worked under chum for mangrove, lane snapper, triggerfish and porgies. Deep wrecks seeing northbound pelagics exiting the Keys migration. Sharks on bottom taking large cut bait under chum; kings on reefs with loads of bait taking tethered runner. Cobia on sight casted pinfish

Bonita Springs: Warmth has moved tarpon early. Seeing May action now from Wiggins Pass well up past Carlos Point especially early morning. Either cut catfish or worked threadfin. Avoid chum unless you want a big hammerhead or bull in your face. Wrecks in the 15-20’ range that show significant bait will have attracted some of the northbound migratory with kings being the primary participant. Can troll deep spoon on set up and get a runner on wire and tethered under a float for your king and while you work the same waters for cuda and or sharks with live bait and chum. Exciting time now as the piscatorial evacuees from the tainted waters return.

More:Fishingcast: Conditions for Southwest Florida, April 5-12

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