Fishingcast: Conditions for Southwest Florida, May 10-16

Bill Walsh
Dan Jackson, Naples, caught a nice goliath grouper and a 36-inch cobia using live floating shrimp.

Week ahead holds continuing conditions of unseasonal “hot” temperatures and just a smattering of rain. But we’ll see some hefty westerly wind gusts especially in the afternoons. That might affect the water quality especially in the backwaters and on the nearshore reefs. Reports that I receive from the FWC indicate that there has been virtually no intrusion in any of our waters from the red tide over the past four weeks as well as any presence of the algae fouled waters; which is good news and hopefully that will hold through our near present “rainy season”. The tides for the week are benevolent with a metered morning incoming and a like afternoon outgoing. The water temperatures however should jump into a steady 80-degree plateau and stay persistent. A tough rainy season is just weeks away. 


Marco Island: Snapper have been the “name of the game” here for the past couple weeks. The early turn on winter conditions added to an unusually warm December through March and the snapper stayed feeding all through our backwaters, Net Result: nice size snapper as our spring surprise. Not unusual over the past few weeks to see 12-14’” mangroves on the feed in many of the backwater spots with clean water flow; on either tide. A tipped jig or a shrimp laden lindy rig will get you action. Elsewhere, there is inconsistent action on pompano, mackerel in the passes dependent on bait presence and water clarity; work on tipped jigs.

Naples: Continued warm temperatures and strong water movement at first light should translate into good snook opportunity especially in the first part of the week. The area from the Gordon Pass to the Port Royal junction (south side) gets the highlights for action on pilchards worked under bait shower. Scattered reports of morning action on the last part of the incoming tide in Hurricane Pass for pompano action along the edges of Sea Oat Island working tipped jigs tight to the bottom on drift. Rookery Bay flats still producing some nice size spec trout on drift with whole shrimp worked on 4’ leader under popper over grass bottom.

Bonita Springs: Waters staying clean. Reports of red tide nil. Best action markedly early before direct sun rays vertical into water. Carlos Point super early before tide turn for tarpon action. Silver kings working bait early and going for threads / pins freelined into slacking current. Mound Key, mid Bay, shoal edges for spec trout over seagrass working whole shrimp on 4’ leader on drift. Reports of good redfish action continue spots adjacent to the Matlatcha Bridge working live threads/pinfish on either tide with seemingly the best at the zenith of the incoming tide.


Marco Island: Tides may have more influence here this week that general weather and wind. Post weekend may be best as tides strengthen. Inside reefs will have good to very good action on mackerel and bluefish action dependent on the location of the bait schools. Bird action is a key factor here. Stay mobile and work under the action. Offshore action improving as remnants of the fouled water disappear. Key factor on spots is bait presence. Signals clean water and good feeding action. Returning kings, cobia and permit will feed actively on so get chum and live bait in the game on such spots and be patient; been a long dry spell.

Naples: Inside notable action on mackerel schools tight to the Pier and then spreading south with the tide. Stay mobile and work the areas under diving birds and surface fish eruptions. Tipped jig on light wire will usually do best; tossed tight to the edges of the eruptions. Deep the area around the Santa Lucia wreck has been getting some serious attention working a live bait or a serious chunk of cut bait just off the bottom. Some smaller kings but more seriously some major size sharks (blacktips / bulls) will be quickly evident. Use wire leaders and major tackle; just in case.

Bonita Springs: Inside action early from Carlos north to cut for tarpon on last of incoming. Couple of reports of good action on take home snapper all along the east edges of the MAY Reef complex working weighted jigs under chum. Either tide is working with some triggerfish and porgies (to good size) in the mix. Super deep on marked wrecks for Amberjack to super-size working live bait on a vertical drop right into the structure. Caution: use major tackle and rig. Not unusual to see an AJ over 40# on a run off. Check to get up to date on fish retention.

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