Fishingcast: Conditions for Southwest Florida, May 24-30

Bill Walsh
Marketa Robinette with a est 175 lb. tarpon caught offshore Marco Island. Mullet was used for bait.

Just when you think you’re get the weather pattern figured out, it falls apart just like it does for this coming week. Forecasts, last week, were crammed full of words like “rainy season” and “storm preparation” and now we see virtually a 180-degree shift in this week’s prospective weather. Zero rain and not even a hint of a wet, stormy period. No complaining, however, for what we see coming is better than storms. A weather friendly week with morning real feels in the mid-70s that ends up scratching 90 degrees come late afternoons with only one afternoon late week predicting some moisture and that for only a two to three-hour afternoon period. With those weather predictions, it’s time to adapt the severe hot weather precautions to the sportfishing ritual. A first and important factor to consider is time of day; cooler mornings both for the angler and the feeding fish. Come 10 to 10:30 on most mornings the sun has reached a height in the sky that the torrid sun’s rays obliquely penetrate the waters and, the fish will turn for shade (backwaters) and run deeper to cooler water depth (nearshore and offshore). From then on it kind of play’s out dependent on what the bait fish do. The other factor of tide strength also won’t enhance the probabilities this week. The tides are void of a new or ending moon phase thus the water flow both ways is moderate both ways. Bottom Line: Get on the water super early and give it your best effort.   


Marco Island: The suggestion of starting early is certainly a dominant recommendation here. With the shallows wide spread in most of the passes as well as the meandering backwaters; the midday searing sun heat will be a fishing turn off. Morning water temperatures will shoot up an additional two to three degrees over the already hot low 80 readings. Early tide incoming turn just before first light will draw pelagic action in all three Passes (think mackerel, blues and pompano) working tipped jigs adjacent to surface active bait schools. Later action will be on snapper with some small redfish along mangrove edges on shrimp/live bait.

Naples: Varied scenario here with Gordon River water flow and Naples Bay depths adding some differential to the sun penetrated water. An early start will provide enhanced possibilities especially early on snook along the south edges of the pass and up into the bay. Early low angle sunlit hours should provide strong potential for small snook, redfish and good size mangrove snapper in the Dollar Bays, then south along the ICW to North Entrance Rookery Bay. And for the Naples contingent a move to the beach side of Keewaydin as the tide swings outbound mid-morning look for super opportunity working whiting/silver trout on jigs.

Bonita Springs: May 17 FWC report on red tide reported very low background concentrations Lee Co. No fish kills, respiratory issues. With both snook and redfish on the release list, effort for filets goes to mangrove snapper big time. Estero Bay efforts for them focused on shaded edges east side of Big Hickory area, both in tidal current in Channel and along the mangrove edges working cut shrimp on jigs, lindy rigs. Snook feeling the season move and are heading to the passes for spawn. All release but feeding - circle hooks for safe release. Matlatcha still prime spot for redfish. Many now to legal size but closure in force until mid-2020.                                   


Marco Island: Weak morning incoming tides may influence the fishing quality through Memorial Day inshore both open waters and structure. Will influence the pelagic (top water) action the most and some lesser effect on bottom action on inside reefs and structure. Tides increase dramatically post Memorial Day improving action potential. Offshore seeing fair to good action on continuing pelagic march north. Kings will inhabit wrecks holding significant bait and ca be worked with cut or live bait worked with chum. Significant action showing on prime predators (sharks, barracuda) on major reefs working live/cut baits on major tackle under chum on either tide.

Naples: Inshore action off west coast of Keewaydin Island, close in 7-12’ depth working weighted jigs under chum for snapper, some mackerel, triggerfish and small black tip sharks. Mid-range action strong on east edges Gordon Five Mile for lane and mangrove action just off the bottom on weighed jigs, top water for mackerel, blues, porgies taking weighted jigs under moderate chum. Deep for wreck action on north bound migrating returnee kingfish, cobia and permit. Kings super active, draw with chum going for live, cut runners. Cobia attracted by chum fall for sight cast thread herring. Permit on small crabs freelined.

Bonita Springs: Tarpon showing first light Big Carlos cut (weak incoming may affect) but worth a try with threads freelined into first light water movement. MAY Reef complex good action lane, mangrove snapper, some porgies and triggerfish worked with tipped jigs 2-3’ off the bottom. Deep water best chance for grouper is gag worked 40-50’ depths with structure working live threads / in amongst the bottom elevations on a drift or using a planer towing a jointed artificial at 20-25’ amongst the peaking structure at 4-5kts. Note: Gags open on June 1. Minimum size 24”. Red grouper: most all undersized except super deep.

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