Southwest Florida Fishing Report: Venturing out has been prosperous for American red snapper
The heat is on here in Southwest Florida. Ambient temperatures are hot, several bites are on fire, and afternoon thunderstorms are booming. All telltale signs that summertime is in full swing.
Early departures are a good measure to avoid conflict with the active thunderstorms forming east and marching westward to the coastline. These storms have been potent, slow moving, and full of cloud-to-ground lightning. Early departures allow anglers ample time to fish in safe comfortable conditions for the first few hours of the day and hopefully capture heaps of piscatorial action.
Anglers on the scene prior to sunrise are connecting with tarpon along the beaches and outside of the area’s passes. Showing up with a variety of large chunky flies, top water lures, soft plastic swim baits, live herring and crabs will assist in hooking up to the prized silver king.
Snook continue to keep the lines tight and the drags screaming within the inshore arena. With each passing day, inshore water quality and action continue to improve after the passing of the season’s first tropical system two weeks ago. The storm’s winds, waves, and rainfall truly created turbid conditions which have now fully cleared.
Venturing out beyond the horizon, water depths greater than 160 feet have been providing charter and recreational anglers excellent opportunities to reach their limits of American red snapper. Stopping and shopping over ledges, wrecks and rock piles has proved fruitful in landing these beautiful and tasty Gulf species.
Shorter runs to 90-110 feet of water depth are keeping grouper diggers hooked up and bent to the rail. Concentrating on vast areas of limestone substrate, large profile pinfish, herring, chunk squid and 4-ounce metal jigs have been too tough to resist for hungry and hard-charging red grouper and a scattering of gag grouper thrown into the mix.
Remember anglers, a keeper-sized red grouper is required to measure 20-inches in length while gag grouper need to be 24-inches to harvest. The Gulf of Mexico daily bag limit is two fish per harvester for each grouper species.
Offshore: “Full day grouper fishing has been outstanding right now with limits coming over the rail when fishing deeper waters,” said Capt. Gene Luciano of Naples City Dock-based Dalis Fishing Charters. “On our multi-passenger half day trips the snapper have been cooperating.”
Half-day multi-passenger excursions have found Luciano and crew working hard bottom areas in the 14-17-mile range. Using squid wings, Dalis anglers have enjoyed a steady pick of lane snapper, silver grunts and a scattering of red grouper.
Full and ¾ day charters have also been quite fruitful for Dalis captains Davis Olsen and Paul Luciano. The skippers have kept their crews busy reeling in limits of red grouper along with excellent barracuda action of which two were mounted for their anglers to remember and enjoy. Live baits and squid were used to fool the grouper while trolled kingfish spoons and tube lures captured the attention of barracuda.
Naples/Estero Bay: “Summertime fishing patterns are in full swing,” said Capt. Pat Gould. “Snook are in the passes, redfish are around the oyster bars and mangrove snapper are everywhere.”
Early departures have found Gould procuring a live well full of sardines and then heading into the passes and middle bay systems in search of his quarry. A well-placed live sardine has been yielding great catches of snook up 38 inches along with an abundance of mangrove snapper for a fish fry.
Gould recommends early and late departures to avoid the oppressive heat and conflict from afternoon weather.
Ten Thousand Islands: “A calm weather pattern has us on the hunt for tarpon and snook here in the upper Ten Thousand Islands,” said Capt. Chris Turner. “Mornings have been slick and calm for a change.”
Early departures in the cloak of darkness have found Turner and his casters plying the Gulf facing shorelines and beaches for tarpon. Smooth conditions during the first few hours of daylight have assisted Turner with locating active schools of the gamefish and maneuvering his guide boat into perfect casting range for a hookup.
By the mid-morning hour, Turner has been finding snook-catching success within the array of middle bays and small outside island cuts casting live sardines and herring rigged on a Kahle hook/fluorocarbon leader combination.
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