Fishingcast: Conditions for Southwest Florida, Sept. 20-26

Bill Walsh
Fishing out in the deep blue on a cold Southwest Florida day can be trying for the heartiest of souls.

Weather conditions here on the Paradise Coast are in quiet seasonal transition. In addition to the troublesome arrival of tropical storm threats that has the populace racing to merchants for all types of expensive safety items, we live with being next store to catastrophic events like Dorian in the Bahamas.

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So, that weather has been a sustained early fall event here and it gets to be an expectation. This coming week proves to be no exception. The weather forecasters have charts of emerging storms as well as others bantering the Southwest that keeps us all on edge. But if you focus on our domain in Southwest Florida, it’s evident that we will have to deal with changing conditions. Expect things to change rapidly this month as the fall weather pattern dictates. Look for the overall air and water temperature to hold a steady decline which in turn will affect the angling opportunities as it triggers the migration of our transitional pelagic species and, in their stead, the arrival of the more sedentary occupants. Look for the winter species to begin arrival as we enter October.

The volatility of weather change will become more frequent which in turn our angling opportunities. This week might well mark a beginning to that evolution with some uptick in wind and riled water as well as constant threats of barometer variations. Easily evident will be the fluctuation and strengths of tidal strength and tumbling water temperatures. This is the start of seasonal change here and anglers must be ready for constant adjustment. Local weather forecasting stations are well equipped to give you a realistic look at what lies ahead for your fishing trip.


Marco Island: We will see some moderately fall like weather downturn this week. A smattering of moderate tropical weather systems early week will stir up some northeast and east winds here which will chase the humidity from our continued warming conditions but will rile the waters and deliver some sea state conditions; will affect sea clarity and surface waves. Still good chance for sustaining mangrove snapper and redfish action along the mangrove edges all through Rookery Bay and down to Keewaydin. Should see a continuance of nice size reds back in Upper Addison in last hour of high incoming tide on shrimp under popper

Naples: With the fronts storming through mid-week, we should see some diminishment in snook action tin the waters of Gordon Pass past Port Royal dependent in what the quick cooler water does to the activity in these snook laden waterways. Don’t really think it will fall to less than 70 degrees but that’s an unanswered question, Hopefully it will hold above the magic 70 degree action threshold. Elsewhere still seeing some continuing snook action all along the edges of the Dollar Bays right into north Rookery. Elsewhere Keewaydin continues to report excellent mangrove action and some surprising pompano action first hour or so in the Hurricane Pass entrance with tipped small jigs to the bottom.

Bonita Springs: Interesting issue being reported. Some undefined releases of tainted water from Okeechobee; we’ll have to see. Whole issue is in undisciplined government control. Issue far from over, Just before release had nice reports of nice size sheepshead invading waters just inside New Pass and back along the Channel markers for early arrivals with some black drum in the mix. Good omen. Redfish still super active with best spots north along the Matlatcha Bridge Crossing. Shallow mangrove protected edges with shrimp under popper worked tight to mangrove edges at top water. Spec trout first reports at circa Mound Key area of Estero also bodes well for future activity.


Marco Island: Dorians presence north of us had impact on action here. Downturn in barometric pressure, wind and water temperature impacted the good late summer bite. Suspect an initiation of seasonal turnaround to occur this week. Don’t be surprised to see keeper size sheepshead and drum begin to show on the inside reefs. The deeper water pelagics will hold on deeper structure reefs and wrecks until the bait fields head south; probably sometime in late October. Also, will see the reverse (north to south) migration activity of the major pelagics start just thereafter. Be ready to adjust baits and techniques as the transition fuels up.

Naples: Inshore, Naples is one of the top hot-spots for great snook action with unusually warm (70 degrees plus) all spring and summer. That will radically change if this is a colder winter season start. Monitor water surface temps. Past year trends has been staying warm but could change here very rapidly. Out deep, the stone crab fleet will be finishing setting traps and tripletail will become a main target. If running west set a lookout for them alongside pot markers. Also, be on the lookout for south migrating cobia and kings to begin. Work wrecks and reefs with significant bait action as feeding points for the southbound pelagics.

Bonita Springs: Inshore and coastal still holding water warmth and bait. Reported good action in hot spots in Estero all along waterways and cuts. Evident heavy bait fields still in play. Stay in tune with discharges from the Lake O; could shut things down quickly especially if blue-green algae evident. Deep seeing good reported action on mid-range wrecks on cobia, kings and permit. Reverse migration could enhance that action as pelagics head south. Be ready to work the stone crab traps for tripletail here in a week or so. Plus, upscale effort on bait laden wrecks as Panhandle cobia head south.

More:Fishingcast: Conditions for Southwest Florida, Sept. 13-19

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