It takes all your imagination to focus on a November that begins with water temperatures with 80-plus degree temperatures, but here we are. These next couple of weeks will rewrite the record book of fishing these summer-like near winter days.
Unprecedented and having no history, it’s anyone’s guess as to what will happen in the weeks ahead. For everyone it’s a guess; so, here is ours. First do all, this water and air temperature aberration will be costly to our fishing and general water conditions. Heat to this level will inflame the red tide and (later) the algae problems all along the paradise coast well into the new year. So, at best fishing will be marginal with many of the winter species (sheepshead, drum, trout) remaining offshore in marginally cooler deeper waters.
The warm water species will hang around as will their bait and we’ll most likely see a winter with unparalleled summer action (i.e. snapper, pompano, mackerel, etc.). Will be interesting to see the reaction of the cold water species deal with the temperature differential; will be some sheepshead and drum make it inshore to spawn but have doubts that it will rival the “lights out” years were the sheepies and trout are stacked up on the structure spots along the river and along the coves and cuts in the deep backwaters.
Now all of that could change if there is a major change in temperature distribution. Everyone is just going to be flexible and ready to adjust to changes. What we have now is unprecedented here. And finally, to more mundane things, water temp will hover from 75 to 72 this week, the tides will be strong working off a new moon and the winds will be moderate and easterly.
Marco Island: Unfortunately, still have a dominant threat of red tide infusion dependent on current, tide and wind action. Marco is one of the hot spots with effect is all three factors on any day. Inshore winds punish the fishing effort more along the nearshore than the distinct backwaters. Feeding fish can determine the conditions rapidly. Need to follow them. Birds feeding and surface bait action a very positive indicator sometimes in a very marginal area. Summer fish still dominant in the heat, snapper, pompano, trout, whiting redfish dominant as well as snook, but only where there is active bait and bird action. Lots of moving around pays off now.
Naples: Reports show that the Naples area a tad better off than areas south as far as water quality goes. Snook are still reported active along the first stretch of the Gordon River early morning on the mid-morning incoming tide working pilchards tight to the south side of the cut. Switch off as the tide picks up strength and move into either side of the Dollar Bays and work some mongo shrimp under a popper tight to the mangrove edges for redfish that are reported super active in some clean unscathed water flow. Need to be tight to the mangrove overhangs for the best action. Possible for spec trout also here.
Bonita Springs: The bi-weekly FWC reports beginning to show some intrusion of red tide in the Caloosahatchee River so could change the situation here. Up to now action along the river into Sanibel has been decent on smaller redfish, snapper and some snook. Hopefully that will hold. Estrero Bay along the backside of the Big Hickory Channel where there is good incoming water flow is producing good pompano action on the sand edges of the drop offs especially on the first of the incoming water with tipped jigs bounced to the bottom but shuts down as mid-tide approaches.
Marco Island: Unprecedented water temperatures continue to define the conditions. Water temperatures in the high 70s and air temps in the mid-80s are not going to trigger fall fishing even near and offshore. Anyone’s bet; mine will be a continuance of summer (snapper, pompano, mackerel) action until we get a serious cold front roaring through here. So best advice now is to “keep on the summer fishing tactics.” Inshore still lots of bait along the 10-20’ shoreline and out deep we still have pelagics waiting to run to the Keys when the cold hits. Deeper reefs still have summer like action on kings, cobia, permit working live baits under chum. On first major cold front they will vamoose south.
Naples: Thankfully, no serious invasion of red tide water here; most is holding south of Naples water as per the reports. But water temperature is holding summer like action in place. There are still positive reports of mackerel, bluefish action along the stretch from the “pier” to Wiggins especially on the incoming working tipped jigs under chum. Offshore the pelagics are also holding on their tun to the Keys and active on most all the deeper wrecks, reefs holding bait. Almost surely a live bait tethered at 15’ in chum will draw you serious action on a kingfish or an aggressive blacktip shark.
Bonita Springs: So far, the Bonita area is the least impacted with the fouled water mess. Inshore getting good reports of good action on through Estero Bay right on up to the Sanibel Cut. Getting good feedback from Estero on redfish and even late season snook action from Carlos back to Mound Key with anglers working live bait for snook and reds. Deep, those making the deep run are seeing redfish, finally to keeper size working live bait right smack on the hard bottom on a tidal drift, reds are not huge but pass muster on the 22” limit. Took two years to rebuild the stock.
Capt. Bill Walsh owns a charter fishing business and holds a U.S. Coast Guard license. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.