Fishingcast: Conditions for Southwest Florida, May 3-9

Bill Walsh
Joe with a nice triple tail fishing out of Marco island.

Spring has suddenly turned into early summer. This week you’ll be faced with hot weather conditions early in the summer season. Look for more frequent rain periods over the weekend and into the early part of the week; nothing too serious but disruptive if you’re on the water nonetheless. Then, too, late week look for those strong southerly winds to show up both morning and afternoon with some gusts predicted in the high teen velocity. Luckily all the turmoil will be emanating from the south and southeast and may rile up some of those inshore flats along the coast and muddy up the incoming tides along the coast, they probably will keep most of the surrounding waters clean with good visibility. And we will be faced with another spring full moon with surging tides; with the culprit this week a super strong afternoon ebb tide that will be tough to deal with the water’s velocity and duration. The morning incoming will much more favorable all week with the average water movement just a shade under a two-foot swing.

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Marco Island: Water has stayed relatively clean through this past week which has added to the quality of the catch. Most all the big sheepshead are long gone; leaving us with a plethora of 7-9” ravenous feeders that are fun to catch and good at emptying the bait bucket. Good news however on an abundance of good size (11-13”) mangrove snapper that have moved in and are feeding on that vacated bottom structure all along the mangrove shorelines and working the structure vacated by the winter species. Good test is to scan the water’s surface for bait action or sea birds working and you’ll find nice schools of good size mangroves.

Naples: Air temperatures will soar into the 90s mid-week and take water temperatures to hover just above 80 degrees energizing the snook action all through Naples Bay and down the ICW to Rookery. Look for snook action especially in some of the fair to good morning tides and work the shaded waters, usually before 10 a.m. when the sun’s rays go vertical to the water and pull the snook off their feed. Redfish action continues strong albeit on undersized and releasable fish from the two Dollar Bays and down into the North edges and cuts in Rookery Bay. Reds will go for a shrimp strung under a popper with a 4’ fluoro leader.

Bonita Springs: Tarpon in high gear from New Pass to well north of Carlos. Most active first light working schools of threads just north of the channel. Action fades as sun rises. Tarpon go deep, cooler. Good snook action holds in Estero with best early just west of New Pass. On pilchards post shower on early morning incoming first light. Pompano action Ostego Bay early incoming on drop offs working shrimp tipped jig tight to bottom. Chance some Spanish Mack’s will be in the mix; if so switch to light wire leader and follow bait surface action


Marco Island: Close in first and second reef lines have reports of mackerel and bluefish mixed early. Good first light opportunity this week. Exception will be mornings late week with gusty wind conditions out of the SE. Some big sheepshead, black drum reported on SE corner of the Five Mile working cut bait tight to reef structure with a.m. flood tide best. Offshore looking at improving pelagic action as weather and bait abundance steady up. Kingfish the main draw on wreck sites holding schools of runners / threads. Work with serious chum effort / live runner on wire under float or on 3-4 knot troll with jointed plug or flashy spoon. Cuda also possible.

Naples: Mangrove and lane snapper action Keewaydin South Reef (24’) working tipped weighted jigs tight to bottom structure under block chum. Chance mackerel / blues will show in activity. If so, switch to flashy jigs on wire leader and increase chum effort. Naples Five Mile, east edges holding good action on both lane and mangrove snapper working weighted jigs under chum. Deep action on wrecks 15- 20-mile range for kingfish working either a live runner in chum under a float or on a 3-5 knot troll with rigged runner for bait.

Bonita Springs: Good action nearshore MAY Reef complex reports mackerel, blues in top water action east edges of the reef. On shrimp-tipped jigs weighted, under chum. Wrecks in 20- 30-mile range have good surface action on returning kings and sharks working live runners in top water or cut bait on wire to the bottom for sharks.  Blacktips mainly. Sought after red grouper action continues slow even with 30- 45-mile trips. Best bet would be on gag grouper working structure in 50-70 depths either on threadfin under chum or trolling a jointed plug 20-30’ depth right over bottom structure.

More:Fishingcast: Conditions for Southwest Florida, April 26-May 2

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