Fishingcast: Conditions for Southwest Florida, April 3-9

Bill Walsh
Fishing has a way of bringing out something special for those who participate.

Look forward to a raucous end of the month and stand by for some tough conditions as we slide into April. March will literally steam out of here with 90 degree plus afternoon temperatures with some storms Wednesday night and lasting through midday Friday to bid farewell to this month of record setting temperatures in the southwest.

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From some national weather warnings, the Deep South will be being buffeted during three same days by serious flooding rains at the same time. Here we will see steady water temperatures in the near 90 range all week; so, it’s almost certain the good action that the “good” sheepshead will on their way west and offshore and quickly replaced by our mackerel, pompano, snapper and returning pelagics returning from south.

One final weather note for us: that weather system has now been dropped in our lap; get these numbers starting Saturday, we’ll have 22 knots out of the southeast and that accelerates to 24 it’s out of the southeast on Easter Sunday and peaks at a predicted 32 knots on Monday. Not pretty, especially for those needing one more fling sat the fish before heading home.

All of that on top of the horrid track record for the coronavirus holding us hostage. Please adhere to the safety rules on separation there have been on the water along with as well as hand-cleaning discipline. Let’s get out from under this horrible monster.


Marco Island: Look for a divided week with early week gorgeous with great summerlike weather but fading to hellacious wind and rain conditions. Even Easter’ weather looks awful. The early super warm should give you all kinds of shots as arriving spring fishing but disappoint if you’re a fan of the of the departing winter sheepshead. With that windy late week, they might slip out unseen. Might see some action on the incoming pelagics, if conditions warrant by moving to sheltered cuts. Doubt if you will free fall action on open wind whipped water. Will probably see some limited surface action if the wind doesn’t take hold until late morning. Just after first light move into the coastal creeks and streams up around Rookery Bay and the associated islands. Standard fare for arriving macks, pomps and mackerel will be the set up as in the Passes; small jigs with shrimp.

Naples: If the cooler water in mid-March was holding the snook bite at bay, that’s probably not going change if the revised forecast plays out. If the predicted onslaught comes true, do your snook action early a.m., like working with pilchards post shower with a generous length leader and a #2 or #3 circle hook. Also look by the northern cut into Rookery Bay for the redfish sure to put a bid in as the tide makes that mid-morning tide turn and picks up speed. Reds will be working the incoming tide tight to the edges of the mangrove overhangs, but not for long. A whole shrimp under a popper floated tight to those mangrove overhangs is ripe for good action as the water turns; hopefully.

Bonita Springs: FWC water condition reports just a background trace of k.brevis is evident just north of Sanibel, but there has been some sighting of “floaters” in the Estero backwaters. Nothing serious yet as enter the rainy season that’s where we experienced the problem with water quality and fishing the Bonita environs in subsequent prior months, years. Stay tuned to those reports. This week should be a replica of what your neighbors in Marco and Naples will expectantly see if this forecast holds up. There probably will be better tidal flow around Big Hickory Channel which may mitigate some of the weather’s expected action. Also, the Mound Key area has good current control which may allow some drifts down the ledge if redfish or trout are sighted. The good water flow around Big Hickory Channel for pompano along those drop offs on the back channel. Another hot spot would be the Mound Key environs that get great action this time of year working the schools of bait working trout and redfish along the shell[1]  laden edges with associated assembled shrimp and crab. 


Marco Island: This would have been a hallmark week for the transition from weak fall, winter season to (hopefully) a more vibrant spring early summer season. That’s a long shot now, but you’ve seen hundreds of bad predictions go sour. So, stay tuned. Could be a great change of seasons or a clunker. Have seen spring and pelagic initial movement from the Southern waters in the reefs south and a bit west of Marco in the last weeks, so, we know the targets are there. Question will we have the conditions to fish them. The movement at full presence will include the mackerel, pomps, as well little funny, trout, snapper etc., as well as the pelagic favorites of kingfish, cobia, cuda, permit, et all and finally the arrival of both snook and redfish action especially on the inside side of the first and second line of reefs. Will need to switch over to live baits for most of this action. And reenergize the chum effort. All of which is dependent on the rain and wind come Easter week.

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 ledges on nice gags to 10-12 lbs., even better with clean water and light winds and conversely not much triple tail, will vamoose as the pots are a great late season catch. Fish are of some size and super strong. If on hook, tiring quickly keep a watch and release gently. If not be kept. Have couple weeks to finish up the very[2]  good tripletail season. If we added numbers probably the best for sizeable Tripletail catches.

Bonita Springs: Cleaner water here this week could have made the fishing off the Bonita edge a turkey shoot. Will have to wait and see how the predictions work out. Clean, flat water is what we want; so, keep your fingers crossed. Remember every once in a while, the guys and gals with the big TV screens get it wrong. Anyhow Happy Easter either way. Water will keep things hopping this coming week for everything between tarpon and snapper. Should be a bonanza week both inshore and outside over structure and ledges for gag grouper and on the reefs with returning bait holding snapper and sheepshead action mid to inshore. Anticipate that with these conditions could even see the redfish resurge in this which has bottom structure and bottom bait schools to get the red grouper here going again.

More:Fishingcast: Conditions for Southwest Florida, March 27-April 2

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