Fishingcast: Conditions for Southwest Florida, Jan. 17-23

Bill Walsh

The week should start off just fine with nice mild winds and warm temperatures and good fishing conditions but come Monday it’s going to tank; with winds out of the north and northwest that will blow 10 to 19 with gusts well into the 20s and continues as forecast until the end of the week.

John  McGovern with a nice tripletail he caught in front of Naples using Gulp for bait.

It will first mess up the water clarity and make conditions both inshore and offshore a disaster. Don’t see any over-the-top predictions of precipitation however, so this event is just going to be plain old wind and rough seas. Air temperatures will tank a bit as it passes through, so expect to see mornings in the high 60s and peeking out late afternoon in the low 70s. May be a boon to the chill down of the water temperature and send some more sheepshead and drum our way.

The water temperature will probably hold in the low 70s and that, too, would be a plus for the winter fishing. The tides are moderate with an early morning high tide that slides to a midday low and then a high early evening; nothing spectacular but good moving water all day.

So, bottom line if you plan to do some fishing over the weekend it should be pleasant; after that plan shopping trip or a movie.


Marco Island: Look for the chilled water to help your sheepshead quest. Water temps should be depressed especially in the mornings late week and that will be a plus for targeting the cold water species. Could also give you a shot at some pompano in any of the three Passes working a tipped jig in the first hour of the incoming in the cleaner incoming water. Chance for Spanish Mackerel also in any of the Passes as their activity level increases as the bait schools are chasing the bait. Redfish are still around but the action level is depressed especially with the diminished warmth. Snook will be seldom once that water temp slides under 70 degrees.

Naples: Gordon Pass is always a good bet in changeable weather like this. Start at the rip-rap and work along the edges as you move into the Pass itself. Goes without saying that you must get started early; once the boat traffic begins it’s all over for the balance of daylight. Later, try working the docks along the eastern side of the Bay. Some of those deeper holes can shield some nice size sheepshead and even some black drum on occasion. Later a good place to work the top of the incoming tide is either side of the Dollar Bay creeks for redfish and the temperature continues to hold above 70 and stays nice and clean.

Bonita Springs: Continuing good news for this area; clean water both free of the red tide and little to no infusion of the Lake O algae tainted water. Thus, the fishing has been great both in Estero Bay environs and north up towards Pine Island and beyond. Have had steady action behind Big Hickory in Estero especially just inside the Big Carlos Bridge Cut and along the Coon Key drop offs for nice schools of Pompano especially on the incoming tide. Mound Key area is holding squadrons of redfish just off the edges of the shoal edges that are ready to feed on any tossed cut crab or shrimp.


Marco Island: Been some good action along the Marco beaches out to the 15th depth but that may be halted by this week’s weather conditions. As an alternative why not try the inside waters where you can shield yourself from the wind; find some clean water and work the deeper cuts for sheepshead, black drum just off the bottom. There also can be some action on those high tides working back in Upper Addison and in those cuts where there are always some redfish especially as the high tides crest late morning.

Naples: Offshore could be possible late week if that wind cuts off by late Wednesday or Thursday. Good chance for mackerel in close if the water stays reasonably clean between the Pier and Doctors especially as the tide crests late morning working tipped jigs on wire under chum. Later in the day could try back along the Gordon River working the south edges as the tide drains out. Chance for some nice size Sheepshead and drum along the bait schools holding on the south edge of the pass as the winds finally subside. Late week should be wide open outside and action on the Gordon Five Reef should be red hot; but think weather will control where you can fish this coming week.

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Bonita Springs: North winds here will impact most of the nearshore as well as the Estero Bay and waters north. Best to try and find an area that has clean water and less impactive winds. There are massive schools of bait all along the waterway corridors that are holding bait; it all depends how clean the water remains and when it calms down. Offshore, if possible, holds good action on gag grouper on some of the structure spots as well as the perennial sheepshead and drum on the structured reefs. All on cut bait with a little chum to tease them. We’ll let the deep prospects go till next week when it looks much better.

More:Fishingcast: Conditions for Southwest Florida, Jan. 10-16

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