Naples to Flamingo
Includes Naples, Marco Island, Everglades City and Chokoloskee
Weather & Tides
With the new (dark) moon falling this weekend, expect a bit higher and lower tides along with higher velocity. Expect a fast moving incoming tide throughout the morning, peaking in the late lunch hours and then falling a bit slower towards nightfall. Weather is typical Florida weather as we’ll have a stretch of chamber of commerce-esque weather, then get hit with mini cold fronts as we did this past mid-week. As winter continues, pay close attention to how the wind can have a great impact on the tides, whether that is moving water into or out of select areas.
With the water temperatures dropping nearly 10-15 degrees since last week’s “arctic blast” of a cold front, we are now in prime time trout, sheepshead and pompano time. While the pompano have been good much of the fall, this cold water should have them bunched up. Check the hard bottom areas to the south of Big Marco Pass and around Keewaydin, along with Caxambass, Blind Pass and Cape Romano. Making a milk run of these spots will certainly pay dividends and a mix of ladyfish, jacks, smaller trout and maybe even a stray snook will be “bi-catch” when targeting the pompano. Keep it simple with jigs that you can cast a decent distance and work in a quick “Snap, Snap, Pause” retrieve and expect the majority of your bites to come on the fall.
Trout are bunched up thick in the deeper passes, holes and deeper hard bottom points in the backcountry. The area leading into Pumpkin bay is always a good early winter spot for specks, as the deeper water tends to hold them, along with whiting and black drum. Use at least a 3/8 ounce bucktail jig tipped with a thumbnail piece of shrimp and be quick to switch to a half ounce jig if the current is too swift.
Gags, Gags and more Gags. It’s trolling time for sure for the nearshore anglers as a nice push of gag grouper have come shallow to the 30-35 foot depths over hard bottom, reefs and man-made structures. Be sure to pack the deep diving plugs such as a Mann’s Stretch 25’s, Rapala X-Rap Magnum and the regular Rapala Magnums. Mix and match your colors as well, as one day they may be on hot colors and other days I’ve found they prefer natural baitfish colors. I am typically trolling 2 softer tip 7’ rods with 30 lb braid and am varying my speed between 4 and 6 mph. When you get a strike, be ready as they can be quite fierce and whomever is driving the boat should NOT slow down. Simply keep the trolling speed as you will use the boat to pull the fish away from the structure he came out of.
FWC approves several changes to Gulf cobia management
At its December meeting in Gainesville, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) took final action to approve several changes to the management of cobia in state waters of the Gulf of Mexico.
These changes are based on stakeholder input and concerns from anglers, and will further promote sustainable management of this fishery.
Approved changes will go into effect Feb. 1, 2018, and include:
• Creating a Gulf/Atlantic management boundary defining all state waters north of the Monroe-Collier county line as “Gulf state waters” for purposes of managing cobia.
• Making the recreational and commercial bag limits for cobia in Gulf state waters the same by reducing the commercial limit from two to one fish per person.
• Reducing the recreational and commercial vessel limit in Gulf state waters from six to two cobia per vessel, per day.
• The current 33-inch minimum size limit will not change.
Until next week, tight lines and screamin’ drags!
Captain Steve Dall
USCG Licensed Captain- 10K Islands & Estero Bay