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NAPLES — Another week of typical summer fishing conditions in Southwest Florida, and that isn’t a bad thing.
As I write this from Seaside Park, N.J., I can reflect on what an amazing fishery we have in our home waters. For us to go out, even in the hot and humid summer weather, and catch a bunch of fish of several varieties is something we can take for granted.
Up here in New Jersey they never passed a net ban like Florida did many years ago, and the lousy fishing they now “enjoy” is a result of abusing the local fishery. Just the other day I saw a trawler working about 500 yards off the beach pulling in every bit of sea life they could. As a kid I remember surf fishing for bluefish and watching for the schools of bait that marked the next feeding frenzy. No more bait, no more fish.
I hope that Florida maintains and even enhances current stocks of sport and eating fish, and indications are good that this will happen. While many anglers were hoping for a shot at a snook dinner this fall, the FWC (correctly in my opinion) decided to keep the snook season closed for another year to protect and enhance populations of this wonderful sport fish.
Long gone are the days of going out and filling an ice chest with trout, snook or other tasty critters. The exception is for the fortunate offshore anglers that limit out on some really large grouper or nice snapper. Remember, your children and grandchildren might enjoy catching fish just as much as you do. It is up to today’s anglers to ensure that future generations have that opportunity.
Rains have been falling on an almost daily basis, which pushes more fresh water into the bays. You can actually see the “water lines” where fresh meets salt. At times this edge can be very productive water to fish. You might not haul in the largest snook or red, but quantity can be had. Some large jack crevalle also like to prowl these edges and will readily attack your offering.
With generally light winds the water quality has been pretty good, despite Tuesday’s rain and wind. Snook and reds have been active especially early in the morning and later in the day.
Offshore conditions have been very good and that has allowed anglers to venture a little farther out in search of the keeper grouper. Red grouper catches continue to be good and if you can get far enough offshore there are some big gags and blacks awaiting you.
Ten Thousand Islands: Capt. Rob Walczak and friend Capt. Steve Murray participated in a tournament in the Islands on Saturday.
Fishing down in the Lost Mans River area they caught numerous reds, but the largest was only 21 inches. A number of snook were caught as well including a nice 12-pounder. All the fish were caught on the incoming tide and Rob said as soon as the tide topped out the bite died.
On Sunday he fished two half-day trips out of Goodland. where the water is somewhat dirty and fishing was slow. His morning anglers caught six snook and a similar number of reds using artificials. In the afternoon the target was large toothy critters. They went 1-for-3, and Mike De’More landed a 6.5-foot bull shark that went about 150 pounds.
Offshore: The “Findictive” fished a half day on Friday. and Capt. Michael Avinon says the fishing was fairly good.
A number of red grouper were caught including four keepers while fishing with squid in about 45 feet of water. The surprise catch was a nice 25-pound king mackerel.
On Sunday, Capt. Michael took one last shot at the red snapper and headed out for a 12-hour trip. Arriving at a spot he had saved, his anglers lost no time in getting a limit of red snapper on board. The red snapper ranged up to 12 pounds, and they also boated a 25-pound gag and a couple of big black grouper. They weighed in at 30 and 40-plus pounds. Mike said conditions were great.
Naples/Estero Bay: We welcome a new Captain to the ranks. Capt. Ryan Clase has been a fishing addict for many years and finally got his license.
Clase reports that there is a lot of small bait along the beaches and schools of threads offshore. Water along the beach has been clear, but the rains have dumped a lot of tannin stained water into the bays.
Ryan is catching a lot of fish along the color break as well as around the islands. These tend to be smaller fish, but he is finding larger snook around the passes. Ryan is using a combination of the small pilchards and the larger threads.
As the tide moves in and the temperature rises he starts using cut threads around the bushes. Recent catches include snook to 35 inches and good slot reds.