Naples to Flamingo
Includes Naples, Marco Island, Everglades City and Chokoloskee
This week’s weather has been a prototypical late summer pattern with some ridiculously strong afternoon thunderstorms. Near flat calm conditions should greet early AM anglers this weekend with slight offshore breezes forecasted for the afternoon hours. Morning tides will be on the weaker side, followed by ripping outgoing afternoon tides.
Let’s cut right to the chase to the super-secret key to success that should carry you through late summer into early fall. Stay at home in the morning, sleep late, do all your chores and honey-dos and plan on hitting the water around 3 or 4 p.m. This should place you on the water for the stronger afternoon falling tide. In summer afternoon tides are often stronger providing a greater chance for fish to feed heavily just before dark.
Snook should be in the deeper passes like Dismal Key, Fakahatchee, West and Sandfly Passes. Pay special attention to undercut banks and downed trees, as these will become snook magnets as they break up the current just enough for snook to charge out and ambush your offering. Live bait is quick to procure if you search sandy beaches and outside points. Those minuscule pilchards at the start of the summer have now grown to a useable sixe and are perfect for live chumming snook away from structure.
Redfish will take advantage of the lower tides exposing shallow mud flats especially those on the backside of outside islands like Gullivan, White Horse and Hog keys. Anglers in shallow draft boats can toss small brown gigs or naturally hued jerk baits for some sight fishing action. Fly anglers, this is your go-to game plan for scoring good numbers of reds just before dark. Smaller passes to the north like Blind, Caxambass, Marco and Gordon Passes will see tarpon lining the edges of current waiting to crush hapless schools of mullet as they are blown by the current into the Gulf. Live bait is a sure bet, but do yourself a favor and try some of the large plastic paddle tailed swim baits.
Gag season has been a bit of a disappointment for most anglers. Word around the dock is the smaller isolated structure and ledges in 70-to 80-feet due west of Gordon’s Pass is your best bet. Live bait should be large pinfish, mullet, or jumbo pilchards. Use the lightest weight possible to reach the bottom and longer leaders will help fool wary gags in the clearer water.
Closer to shore hoards of jumbo mangrove snapper can be found on any of the published wrecks and reefs out to 10 miles. Heavy chumming with get the action started and light lines and leaders will fool the bigger, wiser mangroves. Permit fishing has been getting better especially on the stronger afternoon falling tides. The best news about permit fishing is the availability of perfect bait sized crabs at most bait shops.