Fishingcast: Conditions for Southwest Florida, March 6-12

Bill Walsh
Lily “shark” Finn with a catch, tag and released bull shark caught in the Everglades.

Looks like it will be typical mid-March week on this island. Lots of wind and variable wind and water conditions. The wind will do what every it wants. Some periods of nice and calm and an hour later going raucous. So, it will take “March patience” to make it through the balance of the month.

More:On the Hook: Hot fishing trip on an artic morning


Marco Island: Still good fishing on the winter species, i.e. sheepshead and black drum as well as the summer’s hangers on; the mangrove and lane snapper that are enduring the much warmer winter conditions and still on their feed. And, believe it or not still getting reports of snook action in the deeper backwaters edges on the faster incoming with snook typical to their primary interest still going after pilchards. All in all, it’s a different year; that all deals with water warmth.

Naples: Things still hopping along the Gordon Pass right to the ICW junction. Unusual to be having these conditions so early this time time of the year, but for the last two years it look like that is our 2000 norm. Still, snook are action (no more layaway for winter and still on the week. The tide is morning oriented with the incoming start before dawn, but excellent chance in the tranquil morning waters to tangle with a legendary line sider. Recommend release, there’s not that many left. Gordon Five surprisingly has large schools of lane and mangrove snapper and feeding heavily, working shrimp and live bait tight to the bottom – either tide.

Bonita Springs: Water quality always important here, FWC report shows red tide centered around Sarasota County. No problem here. Reports of good snook action along the front edges and cuts with best on that stronger incoming tide working pilchards post shower, Inshore reefs holding pelagics, some mornings pompano, some mackerel. Both just as the tide begins to move in (super early), Last month of triple tail, want to try it before they pull the pots and markers. TT’s good size now. Worth an effort inshore even on inshore trips; take the TT on dark colored tipped jigs worked top water.


Marco Island: Close inshore still having good bottom action on the reefs just off the beaches from South Seas to the Caxambas Pass working just off the bottom for sheepshead and whiting worked with live bait with best the incoming tide, Nearshore reefs still featuring good action on yellowtail snapper schooled up on bait rich reef spots working heavy chum into yellowtail schools with tads of block chum freelined into activity and then set on the “flags” post-strike and run. Deep wrecks still producing good on incoming water with last vestiges of tripletail holding on the last days of the stone crab season.

Naples: Edges of Keewaydin Island still hot spot for good action working the morning incoming tide, Set up with a chum effort working an array of tipped jigs tight to the bottom for an array of snapper, pompano, small mackerel and jacks. Deep work the reefs and ledges in the 15-20 mile range for snapper, sheepshead and an occasional triggerfish. All on cut live coaxed with a light chum effort. Deep water 25-30 miles hard bottom getting some action o smaller reg grouper and an occasional hook up near the ledges on nice gags to 10-12 lbs.

Bonita Springs: Surprising action just off the beach Wiggins to Carlos, especially on morning incoming on (surprising) late season snook still working the temperate waters with live bait focused on the morning incoming tide. Mackerel active in 20-25 feet of water between New Pass and Wiggins and going for trolled tipped jigs run in 15-20ft on a moderate speed troll. Deep look for the last action of the year on tripletail before pots are pulled. Smart to set a lookout as the transit the near to offshore with an angler or two at the ready to pursue the tripletail.

More:Fishingcast: Conditions for Southwest Florida, Feb. 29-March 5

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