Naples to Flamingo
Includes Naples, Marco Island, Everglades City and Chokoloskee
Expect air temps to bounce back into the 80’s with a quick passing cold front this past Wednesday. In addition, we had the dark moon (new moon) on Wednesday, so tides will be a bit lower, higher and stronger this weekend, so plan accordingly.
Tarpon. They have arrived. I said a few weeks ago that it is going to get real good, real fast and to buckle up…well, it’s time. With water temperatures hitting that magic upper 70 degree to low 80 degree mark in the spring, you can always expect the first wave of tarpon to get active and they certainly showed themselves well the last two weeks. With as warm of a winter as we are having, it really shouldn’t be surprise, but to be fishing tarpon in late February and early March is such a treat! Fish have been active in the dark bottom bays with good access to deep water. Check all the major passes and those first couple bays adjacent to the passes and the outside islands. Early mornings have been fantastic, yet fish have bit throughout the week on larger paddle tail swimbaits, dark hued flies, live threadfin, pilchards, mullet and ladyfish.
Once the tarpon bite dies off, guys and gals are slaying the snook. Lots of numbers and some larger fish being reported on live pilchards and soft plastic jerkbaits. In addition, they are also chewing soft plastic paddletail swimbaits on ¼ ounce jighead. Current rich areas have been best and select outside islands near the major passes have been very good depending on the wind direction. It may blow a bit this weekend, so my recommendation is if the water gets dirty on the outside, I would head to those same aforementioned bays I mentioned for tarpon.
With the continued warm up, the offshore game continues to be stellar. The one species that really showed up this week was the kingfish and they are big and plentiful. Plenty of fish out there in the 4-20 mile mark roaming the nearshore wrecks and reefs chasing bait balls. Make sure you stock up on treble hooks and wire as we caught 2 different fish with broken off fluorocarbon leaders in their mouth this week, which we promptly removed and released the fish.
Great grouper fishing still at that magic 50-55 mile mark with upper 20 inch class fish being caught on pilchards and live pinfish. The snapper fishing is still quite good and in a few weeks the full moon should have the football sized mangrove snappers fired up so plan accordingly and pray for good winds and weather.
The permit are liking this warmer water temps as well and have showed up quite nicely. Remember that those reefs and wrecks with the higher relief are the key areas to target when fishing for permit and crabs are the key bait. Check with Brian at Serenity Bait in Naples for his stock on crabs, as he generally has them in stock. Also, be on the lookout for the cobia as they are showing up as well.
Captain Steve Dall
USCG Licensed Captain- 10K Islands & Estero Bay