Naples to Flamingo
Includes Naples, Marco Island, Everglades City and Chokoloskee
Weather and Tides
This weekend will be challenging due to two major factors: Weather and Tides. Saturday is the full moon and we have the “blood moon” which is what scientists call a total lunar eclipse, which is when the earth passes in between the sun and moon, casting a shadow over the moon as sunlight is blocked. During this process, some sunlight is filtered through the earth’s atmosphere, reflecting onto a moon to give a red appearance. So what does all this mean for fishing? It means the tides will be extreme. Extreme in the sense that when you launch your boat on Saturday you will have a very aggressive low tide, somewhere in the negative 1 to 1.5 foot mark. This will give way to a screaming incoming tide that will peak just after lunch time.
The weather won’t help much, as the forecast as of this writing has Sunday all but a washout with rain and high winds and Saturday has forecasted winds from the SE in the 10-20 mph range, so you either get out early and beat the winds on Saturday, or hide in the backcountry a little later in the day. The beauty is that if you can time the bite right on Saturday, you should crush the fish as the pre-front bite is always strong, especially on the last of this warming trend. I say roll the dice and make it happen, just be conscious of the conditions.
It’s winter. We have weekly cold fronts and we all need to adjust. If you time your trips prior to the fronts, the fishing can be downright stellar on the inshore side. Snook will be a bit lethargic but can be coaxed to eat with a precisely placed bait. We saw a bunch of fish sunning themselves this week under urban docks throughout the northern part of region and schools of big black drum accompanied them to our surprise, so give that a whirl this weekend. Live shrimp, pilchard and soft plastic paddletails such as the Wyze Guyz Tackle Bambino in natural baitfish colors worked well, as did soft plastic scented shrimp imitators. All were rigged on a ¼ ounce jighead and fished on the bottom with a “hop-hop-fall” cadence. The Bambino in particular was great, as the paddletail on that bait is always falling, even on the drop. Check them out online at www.wyzeguyztackle.com
While winter gives us the trout and black drum, it also gives us sheepshead. While not on the top of everyone’s list to target, they are around and in abundance with these sub 70 degree water temperatures. Small hooks in the 1 to 1/0 size tipped with a small shrimp or a thumbnail sized piece of a larger shrimp will get the job done around dock pilings, oyster bars, area passes and hard bottom. Some bruisers are out there, upwards of four pounds, with keeper fish over 12-inches readily available.
I got a great report from a bunch of guys that ventured out 70 to 90 miles this past week. While that is quite a commitment, the trip yielded some yellowtail snapper that looked like they came from the Florida Keys. Giants. While you can’t possess them, gag grouper were present, along with amberjack, big African pompano, tons of keeper red grouper and football sized mangrove snapper.
Closer to home, the 45 to 60 mile mark, west and northwest of Marco Pass is still producing keeper sized red grouper are still chewing well on reefs, wrecks, hard and live bottom. Live pinfish and pilchards continue to take the biggest fish, while big shrimp and cut threadfin herring are taking the numbers.
The tripletail had another good week with the milder winds, but expect them to get stirred up a bit after the weekend blow. Try to gauge what direction the wind blew a few days leading up to your outing next week and move to the lines downwind of where you found them previously. They tend to move around with the winds.
Until next week, tight lines and screamin’ drags!
Captain Steve Dall
USCG Licensed Captain- 10K Islands & Estero Bay