NAPLES — Hot, humid and windy days have made for some challenging conditions for anglers in our area. With winds blowing out of the south, west, and northwest in the space of just a few days, beach areas are stirred up, and getting live bait was a spotty proposition.
Snook seem to be on an eating binge if you can put the right thing in front of them. Live baits ranging from miniature pilchards to palm-sized pinfish will work. Lots of fish in the 18- to 24-inch range are ranging around the passes and just inside. A number of double digit fish have been hooked this last couple of weeks as the big mama’s gather up for spawning.
Redfish have been a little slower, but you can catch one or a half-dozen working the islands on the incoming tides. They have been eating the same baits as the snook but are also quite willing to eat a piece of cut bait in the bushes. Some anglers are scoring on a shrimp and popping cork combo, too.
Trout still are cruising the deeper cuts and are holding close to the bottom. A shrimp, hook and split shot drifted along the bottom has been working as well as anything.
Fishing for large tarpon offshore hit the brakes the past few days because of the wind. Once things settle down there should still be a few off the beaches for us to hunt. Smaller tarpon are taking baits in deeper holes in the back. Along with the tarpon some 3- to 4-foot blacktips are found in the same areas.
Mackerel are still around, and when the wind settles down they too will be more of a target. Some good sized fish are being caught inside the passes and well into the back.
For the boats willing to venture well off the coast we have a great red snapper report this week. Closer in, the red grouper continue to be the target of choice and seem to around in good numbers. Mackerel, bonita, cobia and sharks are all roaming offshore waters, too. Be sure to have a flat line off the back of the boat while you are anchored up and fishing the bottom. Try drifting across some hard bottom for red grouper.
Be sure to mark you calendars for this year’s Redsnook tournament, which is sponsored by the Conservancy. This year’s tournament will take place November 2-4. Call 403-4219 for more information.
Offshore: The “Findictive” did its first red snapper trip of the year recently and headed out about 65 miles to around 160 feet of water to find the tasty critters. They weren’t disappointed, either.
Fish up to 16 pounds were boated, and then they went after red grouper. They limited out on fish up to 15 pounds, released another 20 red snapper and a huge 25 pound gag grouper. For bait they used herring, squid, and live pin fish, Capt. Michael Avinon said.
Naples/Estero Bay: Capt. Tim Daugherty says getting bait has been difficult with the wind blowing from the west, but when you get it the snook are going crazy.
Fish are mostly in the 18- to 26-inch range, but a number of larger fish up to 32 inches have been landed. Trout are still being targeted in the passes and seem to be eating well at the end of outgoing and the beginning of incoming. Tim said the reds have been spotty as well as the pompano. Since the wind kicked up, his tarpon fishing has been on hold.
On Friday I had Ed Kainec from Cleveland onboard. We weren’t having any success getting bait on the inside so we ran offshore, and after the second throw we were lucky to have a well full.
After that it was all gravy. At every spot we stopped there were fish wanting to eat our baits. Ed had three large snook show him the difference between an aggressive snook and a walleye! He did fine, though.
During the course of the trip he landed about 30 snook to five pounds, three keeper reds, a couple of trout and a nice 12-pound “baby” tarpon. For his first venture to our area he scored an inshore slam ... congratulations!
Ten Thousand Islands: Down in the Islands, Capt. Matt Hoover did very well over the weekend.
For his Friday trip he took his dad out and they nailed the snook. The duo boated a number of snook, including two monsters, a 10-pounder and a 17 too! Add to that five reds and I am sure dad was happy.
Saturday and Sunday, Matt fished with Jason Yancer and family. Snook in the 24- to 27-inch range, a couple of reds and a few trout entertained the group both days. Capt. Hoover said that until Monday the water inside the passes wasn’t too bad, but by Tuesday that was not the case.