FISHING

Southwest Florida Fishing Report for Nov. 17: Offshore enthusiasts have plenty to pick from

Will Geraghty
Special to the Naples Daily News

A welcomed break in the wind and weather on tap has anglers anxious to hook up both shallow and deep. While the Gulf waters took some time to settle from the residual effects of Hurricane Nicole, all of the historical November bites are back up to speed.

Much to the delight of offshore enthusiasts, settled seas will make for comfortable commutes to and from the grounds. Once on the scene, anglers will find the reef fish hungry, sharks on the prowl and a scattering pelagic species vigorously crashing surface baitfish.

Complimenting the settled conditions will be an ideal blend of water temperature, tide and turbidity which will fuel excellent snapper fishing at all depths and locales. However, a recent fishery management ruling will have lane snapper off-limits in federal waters which begin at 9 nautical miles.

Previously:Southwest Florida Fishing Report: Hurricane Nicole could hamper red snapper mini-season

More:Southwest Florida Fishing Report for Nov. 3: Snapper biting on ledges and artificial reefs

As of November 15, the commercial and recreational harvest of lane snapper will close and will reopen on Jan. 1, 2023. The closure is due to the 2002 stock annual catch limit of 1,028,973 pounds whole weight being met.

Gulf snapper common within the region and currently available for harvest include mangrove, yellowtail and mutton. Small profile natural baits rigged on a light leader/hook combination will work well in fooling the tasty reef fish. While prospecting for snapper, live squirrel fish, pinfish, and jigs will attract gag grouper and catch and release red grouper.

Prior to the passing of recent tropical weather, the nearshore and intermediate grounds were beginning to show characteristics of a fall pelagic run. Although the Gulf temperature continues to cool, king mackerel have not made a showing as the biomass is staged up in the waters north of the region. 

It will take several cool or cold fronts sliding down the peninsula to push the silver speedsters into our waters over areas of hard bottom, ledges, and around the periphery of many artificial fish havens.

Closer to shore and in the shallows, the water quality has once again turned quite favorable for anglers pursuing game and a scattering of forage species. A return of baitfish, strong tides and lighter winds have triggered active snook, redfish, and speckled trout action along with pompano. The best bites are occurring along the beaches, inside area passes and throughout the middle bay systems.

Offshore

“The weather and the Gulf have finally settled,” said Capt. Brandon Lawson. “We were able to get the Solo Lobo out and offshore a good distance comfortably and the fish were chewing.”

Taking advantage of the smooth seas found Lawson pointing the bow of his Port O Call Marina-based charter boat out to depths beyond 80 feet. Concentrating on natural hard bottom areas, Lawson has been returning to the dock with vibrant catches of gag grouper and snapper.

The turbid waters assisted Lawson in fooling limits of yellowtail and mangrove snapper using small bits of squid and live shrimp rigged on light tackle. Lawson’s anglers stayed tight to gag grouper using whole frozen squid/herring and live pinfish dropped to the substrate on a traditional fish finder rig.

Naples/Estero Bay

Aboard my Naples City Dock-based guide boat the Grand Slam, my anglers have enjoyed the improving conditions and catching in the inshore waters surrounding Naples and Marco Island. 

In the shallows and during both phases of the tide, snook, redfish, and jack crevalle are snapping up a well-presented live-scaled sardine. Rigged on a 2/0-3/0 circle hook-30-pound fluorocarbon leader combination and cast near rock jetties, residential docks, and current swept points has been the most effective approach technique.

Prior to the tropical weather and during the upper stages of the incoming tide, my anglers were connecting with pompano and speckled trout. Tube and soft plastic jigs worked within the passes and deeper island cuts kept the lines tight. Look for this action to improve as the month progresses.

Ten Thousand Islands

“The tropical weather and winds calmed down making for solid inshore island action,” said Capt. Chris Turner. “The snook and redfish bite really rebounded after the passing of Hurricane Nicole.”

Early departures have found Turner and crew securing their baitfish and heading to several areas within the upper Ten Thousand Islands region. Concentrating on outside and middle bay points have kept the snook rods bent for Turner’s anglers while working over select oyster bar areas during the upper half and first half of the falling tide equaled good numbers of redfish making their way into Turner’s landing net.

If you have a report to share email captwill@naplessportfishing.com.

Anglers, email your photos to news@naplesnews.com and we will compile your images into an online gallery that’s featured each Thursday morning at www.naplesnews.com. Do not submit photos of fish caught illegally.