Fishingcast: Conditions for Southwest Florida, April 19-25

Bill Walsh
Rhys Brossard with a Cravelle jack  that was caught off Marco Island.

Week starts out with a bang! Look for this Friday to contain the conditions that will dump rain and whipping winds throughout the Paradise Coast. Velocity during the afternoon will have switched southwest and tear through here at 17-22 mph will certainly foul the fishing water right through Easter Sunday. However, the conditions recover rather quickly and by Easter Monday things could be recovering quickly; think you can look for the middle to the end of the Easter Holiday week to hold fair to good fishing promise with clearing water and interesting tides. The tide will be coming off a rather strong full moon but both tides won’t react in unison as is usual off the full. The morning incoming will be tragically weak; so, morning water movement come midweek will be less than a foot and a half over six hours (avoid if possible) Diametrically opposed will be the afternoon outgoing which we be roaring through the passes and backwater excess of 3,5 feet the six-hour interval. So, if you’re working the 6-7’ average backwater depth; half the water will be gone as the tide ends late afternoon. Recommendation: work the early days and hours of the incoming and the first and last hours of the p.m. outgoing. Last point: Water temperature, as the week progresses will warm nicely and you can cherry-pick the warm water (81 degrees) species that should show in the appreciating warmth.

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Marco Island: Looks like the long-lingering big sheepsheads have finally accepted the “wacked-out” winter weather 1cycle and made a run deep to cooler climes. Reports this past week were full of “no take-home” sheepshead action; in its stead was reports of bait bucket emptying legions of all 8-10” sheepies. Stay off sheepshead structure, admit that “it’s over. In its place is some great reports on 12-14” mangrove snapper on the prowl working either live shrimp or cut fiddlers working all the downed fauna in familiar places like Rookery Bay, Hurricane Pass, Upper Addison Bay and the east edges of Hurricane Pass. Make sure you have clean water; a prime ingredient for a suitable catch.

Rylee Brossard, age 3, and her Atlantic Sharpnose Shark caught and released in the Everglades.

Naples: Mangrove snapper and surprisingly mutton snapper are showing in the good water flow areas of the ICW south of the city. Both species fight like banshees and evenly matched on the diner plate; but look for the black spot on the flank of your mutton snapper; get one of those? Take size is 18” and mangroves are 10.” Follow the law. Snook are staying active in the stretch of the Gordon from the Pass to the Junction....south edge weekend mornings before the tide strength peters out. Pompano could be a good bet on the late week afternoon “stay strong” outgoing tide in Hurricane Pass on tipped jigs to bottom.

Bonita Springs: Always first issue here. Water staying clean both red tide and algae per FWC. Multiple reports Estero on teaming top water pelagic chasing hordes of bait flooding the Bay. Remarkable action on Mack’s mixed in with ladyfish, jacks, and nice size spec trout hanging around the Mound Key grass patches on shrimp, 4’ leader under popper on drift. Pine Island Sound as warm with snook to megas loving the early “summer” warmth and the infusion of live bait schools. Good incoming redfish action late mid-afternoon incoming tight to the mangrove overhangs with shrimp, 4’ leader under popper. Sure thing?


Marco Island: As per conditions, will be tough start to Holiday weekend (Friday) and then recover water clarity and sea state by Tuesday. Fields of bait is the draw in the Passes and on out to the Sea Buoy. Pelagic (mackerel, bluefish, little tunny, ladyfish, jacks) thick and moving around fast. Bird action will pinpoint action spots up top with tipped jigs on perimeter of the surface scuffle. Five Mile Reefs southeast/southwest corners for good bottom action spots lane, mangrove snapper with mix triggerfish and borderline gag grouper deep. Live cut bait same venue for blacktip shark under chum. Few cuda up top on fast troll vinyl eel . Offshore wrecks 10-20 with bait for reverse migration pelagics with late p.m. outgoing tide best.

Naples: Ditto on weekend conditions. Pelagics (dominant mackerel) stacked Gordon to Doctors 20-25’ under fields of surface baits under bird action; either set up on structure with chum; tipped jigs or troll surface eruptions jigs or spoons. Gordon Five east edges for bottom action lane; mangrove, some triggerfish; porgies on weighted jigs under chum. Deep – chance for triple tail on few remaining crab markers but need flat water to surface sight. Deep wrecks that show heavy bait presence for yellowtail snapper. Chum heavy freeline tad chum #6 hook with bail open. On strike hold bail open 10-15 seconds then set; great fight.

Bonita Springs: Tarpon action described best in years New Pass north, north of Carlos Point best early fast first light incoming on threadfin, pinfish in fast current. No chum = no sharks. Surface conditions normalize by early week deep. Work intermediate to deep wrecks, reefs holding bait schools for transient migration pelagics; blue runners on wire under float in chum for king mackerel / chum will draw present cobia on surface. Have live pinfish rigged to sight cast. Bottom action with large cut bait for black tip sharks on deep wrecks showing massive bait action.

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