Fishingcast: Conditions for Southwest Florida, Nov. 29-Dec. 5

Bill Walsh

Looking like a quality week for the holiday, not including the water quality. Weather will be super as forecasted with seasonal temperatures at top of the seasonal range and no forecasted precipitation, Winds will be there but moderate and mostly out of the northeast and then at week end shifting over to the northwest but staying mild both ways. With that the waters should stay visually clear but that doesn’t include the quality of the water.

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Still seeing the reports from the water evaluators that show the Marco shoreline and backwaters as infiltrated with the k brevis (red tide) as a serious contaminant here. There is now evident that the condition is evident as far as 10-15 miles offshore both Marco and Naples.

Bob Trento of Naples caught this large Redfish, fishing with Jim Kenney of Marco Island. They were fishing South of Marco in the back country. The fish was caught on a jig tipped with shrimp.

The tides this week are strong especially on the morning incoming and will have a good chance of moving the fouled water around in various directions, so it will take some effort to try moving from one area to another. Know this is a repeat but need to be mobile and test various areas both offshore and backwater and look for signs of marine life; bait in the water and sea birds working the surface before you honker down and expend bait. Bottom line the fish are there but moving quickly to avoid the contaminated water; you must do the same. Offshore water depth may make a difference but that’s an unknown. If the fouled water is as far out as 15 miles, it’s difficult to predict it’s potential.


Marco Island: With good timing on early morning tides and favorable wind and weather conditions would suggest an early morning start working the passes for early a.m. pelagics, pompano, mackerel, jacks and blue runners (some for the cooler, for bait). Good tide movement will also be a plus for redfish and black drum action on the backwater mangrove edges and overhangs working whole shrimp tight to the shallows. Try deeper holes for a chance of early arrivals of the bigger sheepshead that have a good chance of arrival as the water finally chills down a bit. Don’t forget a chance for pompano and as the next tide begins.

Naples: Good weather this week will be a plus; crowded visitor conditions won’t. But good chance early morning for action at the Gordon Pass jetty for pompano and even trout with the slightly cooler weather working shrimp on jigs just off the bottom in the first of the incoming. Later look for action along the edges of the ICW for nice size mangrove snapper. Once there can duck into the openings of both sides of the Dollar Creeks and explore the edges with whole shrimp worked into current for redfish sitting tight against the mangrove overhangs as the tide swells to full; could even find early season sheepshead in same spot.

Bonita Springs: Most conditions reported as positive here, even the water quality. Lack of rain so far this season a plus as to dam releases from Lake O. Having good action on sheepshead, mangrove snapper, trout, all along the eastern edges behind the Big Hickory Pass working tipped jigs either to the bottom or into the current flow. North to Big Cypress and Sanibel seeing good action on redfish to good size working shrimp tight to edge overhangs with the last of the incoming best. Freelined bait working best tight to the mangrove overhangs in the last hour of the incoming water.


Marco Island: Conditions stable except for the k brevis effects (red tide). Still getting reports and feedback from anglers as to conditions as far as 15 miles offshore. Spotty and you must move around. Good action inside at the inside reefs on early a.m. mackerel action at the Walton Reef and in closer at the Capri Pass barges on both mackerel and jacks and some pompano taking tipped jigs. Mid-range action on both lane and mangrove snapper still exist west of the Five Mile Reefs and bottom action is scattered on some small grouper action on several reefs west of that.

Naples: Inshore action reported good between Doctors Pass and the Gordon especially on the morning incoming on mackerel working tipped jigs just off the bottom under a light chum effort with tipped light jigs. Deep, look for nice size lane and mangrove snapper just to the inside edges of the Naples Five Mile Reef complex with the incoming tide being best. Deep, still seeing some late season action on lane and mangrove snapper with a few sheepshead to keeper size just on the edges of the small reefs just a half mile beyond the Five Mile Reef on tipped jigs under chum.

Bonita Springs: Area still favorable to general fishing conditions. Lake O discharges still positive. Early morning action just off Big Carlos for smaller tarpon at first light working live bait in 10-15’ under light chum / showers getting action on small tarpon. Mid-range sites for good to very good snapper action with tipped jigs worked to the bottom, again on incoming tide best. Deeper structure for retreating pelagics; kings and cobia dominant working live threads under chum on either tide seem to work quite well. Triple tail frequency increasing dramatically on the stone crab traps; set lookout and work with tipped jig on surface.

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

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