Fishingcast: Conditions for Southwest Florida, July 12-18

Bill Walsh
Robbie Sommer with a nice snook he caught in Doctor's Pass.

Would surmise that last week’s weather assault, with that tropical depression, was a surprise to just about everyone. It certainly threw a monkey wrench right into this past week’s fishing expectations. Trouble with torrential rains throughout Southwest Florida with absolutely no sense of predictable pattern. Bottom line it wrecked the fishing week but provided an early wake-up call of what lies ahead for all of us in our sub-tropical weather especially tacked onto the superheated conditions here over the past two months.

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Let’s set all of that aside as we examine the arriving week, beautiful, would be an understatement if it all plays out. First and foremost, predictions show almost zero rain and accompanying thunder bangers. Those melting morning temperatures will even give way to delightful mornings beginning in the low to mid 70s. That alone will tend to drop three to four degrees off the superheated water temperature.

Could safely predict seeing backwater water temps in the 83 to 85 degree range and the offshore temps some five to six degrees better than that. That factor alone will energize the bite in both arenas. And a positive factor will be the absence of raucous wind during the whole week. Forecasts show dominant easterly winds of the single digit variety both base velocities as well intermittent gusts. That will do wonders in sustaining the clean water both is the backwater as well as offshore. The tides are heading to a full moon late week with but average tidal velocity which is another big plus. All in all, if you had to run for cover last week, do a restart this week, could really be something.


Marco Island: Good chance the excessive amount of fresh water introduced by heavy rains will need several days of tides to balance salinity (i.e., better chance at currently imbedded species early week than over this weekend). Then should see the snook just about anywhere where good current meets a trafficked mangrove edge, all on pilchards, artificial. Expect some solid action on pompano and mackerel working early incoming tide all three passes. Mangrove snapper will stay staple catch. All mangrove edges with current on tipped jig heads worked on fluoro leader. First, last hours either tide best.

Naples: Redfish will be active in the low salt environment. Mangrove overhang edges on last hours of incoming with a shrimp worked tight to extreme shallow break. Install popper if depth exceeds 4’. Venue: ICW either side Dollar Creeks working current points right to edges. Snook action restored post storms Gordon Pass to Port Royal junction and south on ICW cuts. All on pilchards post showers. Snook all release. Pompano were showing incoming early at Hurricane Pass. Hold off a couple days; then work the first hour incoming with tipped jigs worked tight to the water flow on drift.

Bonita Springs: Just a caution, with the excessive storm water this week what action will Lake O administrators take in potential release into the river? Fishing should be hot this week as overall water temperatures will drop six to eight degrees especially in backwater will excite the bite. Small tarpon in Carlos, New passes early incoming on threads. Deeper water Charlotte Harbor deeper holes for mangrove snapper, some spec trout on shrimp loaded jigs. Pompano action east edges Big Hickory Channel on edges of drop offs with tipped small jigs. Redfish, to size on east edges circa Estero Bay Keys. Shrimp worked shallow.


Marco Island: Inshore action pompano south end Kice Island (Cape Romano) outgoing best working tipped jigs just off bottom on drift on outgoing only. Mackerel action top water early first light incoming Walton Reef on flashy jigs worked under chum; action quits early sun. Good conditions deep as wind cooperates. Reports of good action on most mid-range wrecks (15-20 miles) on yellowtail snapper working small hooked chum bits in slick; open bail with delayed set. Major reefs 30 miles-plus holding good kingfish action on tethered runners set in chum. Sharks to major size deep working fresh cut bait under chum; major tackle.

Naples: Inshore continued reports of good sustained action pompano, snapper, mackerel in first ten ft of water off Keewaydin Beach north of beach working tipped jigs under light chum. Incoming best. Steady action mid depth at Gordon Five Reef working structured bottom with weighted jigs under chum; incoming best. Action mid depth for lane and mangrove snapper with an occasional porgy. Deep action (30 miles-plus) either natural structure or bait gathering wrecks for kingfish in upper range of water and shark action deep along with sizable Goliath Grouper. All of latter on cut bait under deep set chum. Keep Goliath in water.

Bonita Springs: Multiple reports good to excellent tarpon action inshore early on last of incoming tide working live threads tight to surface bait activity. Most now smaller size but active; exercise careful handling on release. Deep: red grouper activity good but size is universal issue; almost all undersized. Might work deeper (70-plus feet) with irregular bottom structure for gag grouper for better size potential; live bait under chum worked amidst structure mid depth. Alternative is slow troll of jointed magnum plug rigged with plane or weight to run at 20-30ft just above structure. Worth a try, gags are sizable catch. 

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