Fishingcast: Conditions for Southwest Florida, July 26-Aug. 1

Bill Walsh
Tony from Chicago with a Cobia just west of doctors pass using live shrimps

Week will deliver another assault of torrid air temperature albeit just a tad muted as a weak (but first of the season) low pressure system forms between the Bahamas and Florida and heads north along the eastern coastline. Won’t do much for our weather here on the Paradise Coast this week but is a veiled indicator that the “tropics” are starting early this year.

Week otherwise will show a minor deflation of 100-plus afternoon temperatures and some diminishment of afternoon storm intensity. The slight winds will again favor anglers anxious for flat sea conditions with most of the direction out of the east and of the single digit variety. The water temperatures that are exceptionally 4-5 degrees warmer here this year will, most likely hold static and be in the 84 to 87 degree range inshore and a few degrees less as you head westward and deep. But the main factor that anglers will have to deal with this week is the unusually strong tides; the late morning incoming tide range late week will near a 5’ range which is unparalleled here. The afternoon outgoing won’t be much better with a late week water movement projection nearing 4’. In both the backwaters and offshore those water speeds will have a major negative impact on the bite; check your tide tables before you head for the briny this week.


Marco Island: Basic angling factors seem to be favorably in line as the week begins; water is clean with good transparency but with a muted tinge of light brown which is the perfect combination for backwater action (i.e. clear for fish to sight bait with just enough tinge to obscure tackle). Snook, most small, prevalent along mangrove edges mostly in moderate tides. Universal bait for linesiders is pilchards (of size). Snapper (11-12”) most moderate tidal spots working a shrimp tight to bottom; either tide. Day to day on pompano action Hurricane, Capri, Caxambas Passes early first hour or so of any tide change

Naples: Factors of water temp, clarity and species available will be the plus this week topped by a series of unprecedented tide strength. Monitoring online tide table projections is a recommendation to match your efforts with projected tidal strength would certainly give anglers an edge up especially in key Naples backwater spots. Small snook and redfish are dominant in key Naples tributaries like the Rookery Bay tributary Henderson Creek and the meandering waterways in Johnson Bay especially in the moderate parts of the late day incoming tide. Bottom line: avoid the racing tidal periods.

Bonita Springs: Latent concern re Lake O discharges with unparalleled rain, storms. Aside: News Press water conference on Aug. 21, key event to unravel water quality issue with govt. Fishing action Estero Bay reported very good, excellent on small redfish and snook showing on current points with best action on moderate incoming with shrimp (redfish) and pilchards (snook) on last hours of moderate tides. Inside channels New to Carlos fun action on small sharks and an occasional pompano working tipped jigs in faster current. Small tarpon circa cuts Big Hickory to Carlos early on artificial worked just off the bottom on early moderate tide.


Marco Island: Huge schools of schooled bait stacked all along Marco and Kice Island beaches holding action not only adjacent to the surf line but on pocked reefs in 20-30’ depths from Capri Pass to Caxambas. Mostly snapper, lane, mangrove, mutton on weighted tipped jigs a foot or two off the bottom with chum. Deep action on marked wrecks / reefs for king mackerel to 25, 30 pounds with tethered blue runner on wire under chum. Curious cobia will show same venue but on surface. Action starts with live thread, pinfish sight cast to searching cobia which now weighing in 25-40# range often. Use heavy tackle; heavier leader.

Naples: Previously reported nearshore action from Keewaydin Flats to Gordon jetty - 8-15’ sand bottom bordering surf line for mackerel, some pompano, snapper, bonnet heads working tipped jigs into light chum. Later in day better here with racing incoming tide early morning. Several late reports of serious mackerel, bluefish action circa Naples Pier and north, drift or slow troll. Mature lane, mangrove snapper action continues east edges Gordon Five Reef for good size (12-13”) lane, mangrove snapper on weighted jigs under significant chum.

Bonita Springs: Juvenile tarpon are super active in the ultra-warm (hot) water temperatures. From the apron at Wiggins Pass north to Carlos Point, they are assembled early morning (either tide but incoming has best results) and taking small thread herring or even chunks of cut ladyfish. Tarps are mostly in the 20-30# class, but on light tackle can provide same action as 150#’s. Estero Bay has multiple reports of great action, mostly on incoming water, for pompano in channel behind Big Hickory on small tipped jigs worked to sand drop offs. And just across the Bay by Mound Key nice consistent action on smaller redfish on bar edges on shrimp 4’leader.

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