Fishingcast: Conditions for Southwest Florida, Nov. 22-28

Bill Walsh
Michael  Fernandez with a goliath grouper caught near Marco Island. It was released.

Thanksgiving week dawns with promising and stable weather. Setting the water quality issue aside for a moment, forecasts show seasonal weather conditions (days at 76 to just over 80 and nights in mid 60s and very light winds) and with just a tad of rain one day late period. All of that should provide good conditions on the water both backwater and offshore. With that stability we should see the water temperatures rise just a bit and we should see the high 70s to low 80s by early week. Overall very stable late fall conditions.

Will be a good Thanksgiving holiday week. However, of more concern for anglers will be no abatement in the red tide situation. It still lurks nearshore and offshore and samples taken and reported for the Florida Fish and Wildlife see its presence and strength as stable. That, as translated into fishing info means that is still here and dangerous and will be moving at the will of the tides and currents this week. Fortunately, the wind probably won’t be a factor and driving the movement. But you still must search areas that show signs of aquatic life before you set up for action. As stated in prior weekly reports look for bird action diving on bait and surface action from schools of bait; which are natural signs of cleaner water. Finally, we will have a new moon late week and the tides, even so, will be moderate with a nice high tide late morning.


Marco Island: This will probably be the best week we’ve had in the last month. Key factor will be the slack water created by light winds and the weak tides which will keep the red tide “somewhat” at bay and the water temperatures stable. Should see good action in all the Passes late morning on pelagics (pompano, mackerel, trout) working tipped jigs just off the bottom. Would also begin to look for some sizable sheepshead and drum action along the Marco River docks and connected waterways. Back in Addison Bay and connecting waterways there will be good redfish activity especially as the incoming tide crests.

Naples: Check out the quite possible action right at the mouth of the Gordon early morning for pompano action just south of the Jetty working tipped jigs back into the assembled bait schools. Could also see some nice size trout here now. Snook are still active as the temperature has steadied in the 70 degree range and there is plenty of pilchard bait to net. The south edges of Gordon Pass have always been a “honey hole” for snook action. Further south the Keewaydin docks are usually a first stop for sheepshead action and Hurricane Pass is one of the best spots as the tide turns for early tide action for pompano.

Bonita Springs: Estero Bay to Sanibel still getting moderately favorable reports (much better than 2018) than 2018. Which is drawing favorable activity on the favorites here. Seeing pompano along the back edges of the Big Hickory Channel waterway on drop-offs during the peak high tides as well as good trout and small redfish action circa Mound Key. Making the run across the Bay to the east edges of Estero will bring you into range for some BIG redfish action working the creeks and cuts in the last hours of the incoming working a hand-picked shrimp to tossed tight to the mangrove overhangs.                                                          


Marco Island: With the light winds especially, this should be a great week to give the nearshore waters a try all the way from Caxambas to Keewaydin. Good chance for pompano, permit action in the waters with depth ranges of 10-15’ just off the beaches on the last of the incoming tide. Major reefs - Five Mile and Walton should be seeing early season action on Sheepshead deep as well as pelagics up top early morning. Offshore the deeper reefs should have retreating kings et al stopping for bait action on the reefs as they head top the keys. For them it’s a live runner under chum. And don’t forget the lookout for the triple tail on the way.

Naples: Inside several reports of mackerel action just north of the pier and the south side of the Doctors Pass cut working tipped 1/4 oz jigs under chum right up on the surface. Seeing good to very good lane, mangrove snapper action on the east edges of the Naples Five Mile with cut shrimp worked tight to the bottom on 1/2 oz jigs. Either tide. Deep for improving triple tail action between Wiggins and Carlos working the stone crab marker buoys. Super deep (60-70’) reefs showing bait schools for retreating kings and a few cobia with best on last part of morning incoming; tethered runner under chum works best.

Bonita Springs: Still no noted fouling from Lake O. Will probably hold off with the dry week ahead. Reported strong action continues all along the channel west of Big Hickory and beginning to see considerable action on winter species (sheepshead and drum) hanging around the markers. Pompano on the drop offs and just off the sand bottom on tipped jigs worked. Incoming best. Deep seeing beginnings of good action on triple tail on surface and very apparent in flat water. Red grouper still an issue on size. Better bet for gags in the 50-70 depth range working bottom structure with live pins or threads. 

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

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

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