Fishingcast: Conditions for Southwest Florida, Nov. 15-21

Bill Walsh

Our week is going to be more of the same as far I can decipher from both the regional and area weather reports. We can expect some intermittent rain periods but nothing that looks like “a front” that would put our fishing quality at risk. Suspect we’ll have brief periods of rain as some of these Everglades storm chunks come floating our way. But nothing serious like a frontal passage.

More:On the Hook: Catch and release (well, mostly)

Red tide is still in play and the Western edges of Southwest Florida are not gaining high marks. However, thus far, we are not running into high concentrations on the Lake O blue algae dilemma that gave us the bad water “double header” last year. But that red tide devil. I’m afraid will be with us quite a while this winter season. There really is nothing on the horizon that will “sweep” it all away at least as we see it now.

Kathleen Meyer from Burlington, Ontario and Naples, says she caught this beauty offshore Marco Island.

On the moderately positive side, we are still experiencing warmer than usual water temperatures that is holding bait all along out beaches and backwaters. The longer the bait tolerates our conditions it will hold the predators here as well as some of the pelagic species that hightail it to the keys this time of the year. What will really help nearshore and backwater action will be a drastic chill down that will drive the winter species (Sheepshead, drum, trout, whiting etc.) nearshore and backwater for the winter season; don’t see anything of the horizon that looks like that yet but it’s not even Thanksgiving yet. Hope springs eternal.


Marco Island: Best guess is a week of transitional fishing. Some chill down in temperature and moisture will make a minor difference. Sense the overall cooler conditions will trigger the sheepshead and drum into first action in both the structured backwater as well as the deeper near coastal reefs. So, don’t be totally surprised if that 13-14” sheepshead makes an appearance; you can only hold instinctive activity off so long. In those same waters the mangrove snapper should stay active at least for another couple weeks and be targets along the nearshore reefs as well as the inshore structure. With the water temperature nearing the magic 70 degrees for the snook you have a good chance to see their activity waning. Redfish will still be a strong bite along the backwater edges.

Naples: Conditions holding stable in Naples with the threats of the red tide massacres going day to day. Look for some stability in the blue-green algae episodes to remain intermittent and avoidable. Snook action which has been so terrific all summer will probably take a winter hiatus here shortly, but you’ll still have a full winter of top notch redfish action to replace the linesiders. And is the cleaner water conditions prevail expect continued permit and pompano action in both the Gordon Pass as well as the tip of Keewaydin at Hurricane Pass especially in the first hours of the incoming tide.

Bonita Springs: Doing good on the Lake O drainage issues which has really helped the water quality. Good action reports throughout Estero Bay and north. Early first light conditions still have some junior size tarpon working the bait fields just west of Carlos Pass and can be good action targets with small threads worked just before first light. Reports from Sanibel et al have good to very good action on nice size redfish that are holding there in thick bait schools. The stronger incoming seems to be the trigger tide working the mangrove edges as the incoming tide heads to crest. Tight to the mangrove edges works best.


Marco Island: Post unsettled weather midweek, should look for some stable weather and more importantly some more stable winds which quickly translate into flatter water conditions as you move near and offshore. Accuweather shows the wind in the 7-9 mile range come late week. Should provide smooth sailing. Still have some late migrators heading south and should be on your favorite spots slashing the bait schools for another couple weeks. Still seeing some strong early season action on what does play such a big winter fishery here on Triple Tail that stage their presence on surface feeding alongside the trap markers

Naples: Would expect some strong pelagic action (mackerel, pompano, jacks, etc.) along the first offshore reefs this week as the reports of immense bait schools are strong. Good action environment working tipped jigs just below the surface on some of the good morning tides this week. Deep, look for retreating pelagics heading south and taking time to work any of the more prolific wrecks and reefs holding bait. Usually like bait (runner, pinfish) set out at 10-15’ depth is a good chum effort. Might see some sizable kings and cobia heading south.

Bonita Springs: Thus far been a far better year for Bonita than 2018 with much more favorable red tide damage. Weather has been marginally favorable too allowing some comfortable offshore action for resident grouper and transitional migrators heading south. Most mid-range wrecks that show signs of holding bait are the best offshore options for landing a “big one” i.e. kings. cobia, permit. The stone crab fleet is in full swing now and the triple tail that assault the trap markers are in full array now. Be sure to pay attention to that as you head deep. Recommend one of the crew as a lookout as you head west and then make you way back.

More:Fishingcast: Conditions for Southwest Florida, Nov. 8-14

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