Southwest Florida Fishing Report: Fish moving into region, but wind still affecting action
Inshore, nearshore and offshore, new species continue to filter into the region’s fisheries. However, similar to last week, the conditions have dictated where anglers go and what they throw as Southwest Florida remain in the grasps of a strong fall pressure gradient.
The easterly wind component has truly favored shallow-water enthusiasts handsomely by providing outstanding water quality. The clean water and ample baitfish combination has been ideal, yet has resulted in mediocre to active outings throughout the middle bays, passes and beaches.
Being rigged and ready to cast live bait and jigs has resulted in snook, redfish and speckled trout making their way into the landing net. Anglers need to look no further than downed deadwood and oyster bars for snook and redfish, while speckled trout can be targeted along channel edges and deeper Gulf side grass flats.
Venturing out to the nearshore fish havens, Spanish mackerel, coastal sharks and a small scattering of king mackerel are keeping the rods bent and the drags singing. Gulf water temperatures ranging between 74 to 76 degrees are perfect for large migratory schools of king mackerel, but the traditional fall run has not quite materialized. Always be prepared — the fish can arrive any day.
Seas measured in the 3- to 5-foot range are keeping conditions quite nautical out on the offshore arena beyond the 12-mile mark. Larger vessels in the fleet adequate to safely handling the conditions are targeting red grouper with success in water depths greater than 60 feet. Remember anglers; cooling Gulf waters are now driving aggregates of red grouper into the deeper water.
In the above-mentioned range and on queue for the month of November, a spike in the number of mangrove snapper coming over the rail has been profound. Accompanying the mangroves has been a showing of migratory cobia, and gray triggerfish strictly on a catch-and-release basis until Jan. 1.
The average angler/boater can only hope the winds begin to subside during this robust period of the fishing calendar.
Offshore: “It’s been bumpy and windy, but we are catching when we have been going,” Capt. Brandon Lawson said. “The bite has been good when we have been able to reach the fish.”
Docked at Port of Naples Marina, Lawson has been pointing the bow of his charter boat, Solo Lobo, to select areas of hard bottom due west and northwest of Gordon Pass. On the grounds and anchored up, Lawson has been targeting lane/mangrove snapper and red grouper.
Prepared for all bite scenarios, Lawson and crew have been using squid, live scaled sardines, and shrimp deployed on a chicken rig for the snapper, and pinfish dropped to depth on a fish finder rig for the red grouper.
Closer to shore and early in the fishing day, Lawson has been prospecting several artificial fish havens for Spanish mackerel. Eager for schools of larger king mackerel to arrive, Lawson has been casting live scaled sardines and shrimp to tempt the ravenous Spanish mackerel. An early event, Lawson recommends departing the dock at sunrise to cash in on the light-tackle nearshore action.
Naples/Estero Bay: “Recent winds have not been a fisherman’s friend,” Naples light-tackle skipper Capt. Pat Gould said. “The past week, the action has been both inconsistent and moderate.”
Despite ample baitfish schooling in the shallows, Gould has found success casting light ¼-ounce jigs tipped with fresh shrimp. Presenting his jig offerings in the passes and along channel edges, Gould and his anglers have been staying tight to snook, big jack crevalle and mangrove snapper.
On a recent charter with angler Greg Brent, Gould used his guiding prowess to keep Brent hooked up to numerous snook, redfish and jack crevalle. During the tide change, Gould ventured out onto the nearshore Gulf grounds and scored several large seasonal and tasty tripletail.
Ten Thousand Islands: “The fishing in the Ten Thousand Islands has not been easy due to the high winds,” Goodland-based light-tackle ace Capt. Paul Nocifora said. “Even with the wind, fish can be found if targeted correctly.”
Redfish has been on Nocifora’s guiding radar during low and high tide conditions. Baitfish patterns have been working well for Nocifora’s fly anglers during the low water, while Gulp shrimp rigged on a light jighead has the redfish chewing on the high water.
Around the oyster bars located in the middle bays and outside Gulf-facing shorelines, snook have been holding tight to large aggregates of schooling mullet. Casting white-colored, soft plastic weedless fluke-style jerk baits has consistently attracted reaction strikes from medium- to slot-sized snook and the occasional tarpon.
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