Fishingcast: Conditions for Southwest Florida, Oct. 19-25

Bill Walsh
File: Fishing, Florida.

Well as they say the “beat goes on” the shoreline from south of Marco is exploding in red tide immersion. Do you want to go out though and slug through red odiferous water and catch a fish for dinner that looks identical to the hundreds of fish scattered all around dead. In some of the local weather shows, you couldn’t help noting the wind currents shifting just off Naples and Marco switching from westbound switching back easterly and speeding up (i.e. the red tide is centered off the Collier Coast and is being recycled back inshore).

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There’s no need to wonder why we have the “killer” conditions this type around. But all is not dead. In the deeper inshore zones like Rookery Bay and along the ICW north of Calhoun Channel there are reports of nice pompano chasing the little bait fish that are being chased inside by the red tide conditions.

In other words, the pelagic are being to the highest degree of clean water now and will be feeding until things switch back to normal or the tide works its way north. All that may well change when we get our first roaring cold front steaming through here but as the warming trend continues to challenge our best guesses, it’s all “probable” angler. General conditions of tide and weather are remarkable in their blandness this week; 2’ tide either way, nothing special and every day in or close to 90 degrees with late day sprinkles.


Marco Island: The FWC publishes a quite extensive weekly report on the Red Tide all along the Southwest Florida and this last week ranked the presence of the concentrations of the irritant as excessive right along our beaches from Romano to Keewaydin. Best, as we stated in conditions that are deep and along the ICW walls heading north could experience some action. One of the best indicators that there could be good fish action is sighting birds (black skimmers /pelicans) working the surface and seeing bait splash on the surface. Both events Indicate healthy feeding fish beneath. Had a couple reports on trout showing along the Calhoun Channel on the afternoon outgoing the other day working 8-10’ edges with a whole shrimp on a 4’ leader under a popper but you had to stay in the main current stream. Snook are still active in the hot water a and working Gordon Pass right to the ICW junction on earlier tides.

Naples: Many local Naples fishing reports these past two weeks are reporting a total picture much better than ours. With all those snaking creeks cutting back off the ICW and the dollar bays they have fish hiding back on the high water and the tidal flow whips the bad fouled water right past the tributary openings. Redfish to 19” are being taken right as the incoming crests on live “hand-picked” shrimp being worked right to the structure

Bonita Springs: If Collier County anglers wanted clean action why not think of a trip up I75 and work the waters now teaming with relocated fish and anglers ecstatic over the change of conditions that reversed themselves from the virtual skunking those folks put up with last year. The reports we are receiving are out of this world action on legions of snook mixed with 8-10# jacks. And right alongside those acclamations are raves over the redfish action from Estero east edges to great action up near Matlacha on squadrons of redfish roaming the warm clean waters. What a switch over last year, but well earned. Enjoy!


Marco Island: That swath of red tide covering Marco’s beaches has already travelled with the steering currents moving the damaged water right through the nearshore as it highballed it into the backwaters. Reports that we’ve gotten and heard about are displaying a science of cut and run. The tide has no distinction of who it aims at to pick up more nutrients. A deep run offshore might mean a 60 mile trip west from Marco to even get close to reasonable action. You should have reasonably good surface conditions and it’s possible that you could run into mega cobia, kings, permit where the water might be a tad cleaner.

Naples: The brakes begin here. Nice clean water and teaming schools of fish from Gordon Pass up past Doctor’s Pass and end up just off Wiggins Pass in a giant school of mackerel tearing up a giant school of runners and grunts. Got all kinds of reports this month that sound exactly like that; how’s that for a fishing dream. That’s what the anglers working from Keewaydin to Bonita are running into and if they move offshore the mix turns into kingfish, cobia permit all heading south to the Keys for a winter respite. Great winter fishing here. Come on down.

Bonita Springs: Have several reports of anglers running into the elusive red grouper working pinfish tight to the outcroppings out at 25 miles northwest. Been awhile for that to happen. Nearshore getting noise of nice mackerel action just inside the reefs with shrimp on tipped jigs under chum with incoming best. Super deep it’s the structure holding nice size yellowtail snapper schooling up quickly and working tads of block fed chum fed into slick. Works best if bail is a late set to let the flags swallow. Cobia, kings, permit and sharks frequent visitors on the super bait wrecks working live bait in chum.

More:Fishingcast: Conditions for Southwest Florida, October 11-18

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