We are on the backside of the first late fall cold front with cooler temperatures and a resurgent wind. Thankfully that wind which holds at about 15 knots and gusts to 25 knots is emanating out of the east / northeast which keeps the incoming water clean albeit it stirs up the outgoing tidal water. Forecasts show that those conditions will hold until after the weekend and then ease as the week progresses. No fronts are forecast for the period. The water temperature has tumbled into the 74 – 76 degrees range and holding. The tides are coming off a full moon and ease considerably as the period progresses……. Morning incoming stronger than the afternoon and evening outgoing.
The water temperature drop is the key feature in changing our fishing opportunities as we finally enter the fall season. Here we are seeing a change in activity with some specie activity tailing off and some other kicking in. For example…..you will see the hot mangrove snapper bite begin to tail off replaced by more sheepshead and seatrout action. Will still be some snapper action but most will be smaller. Other species will pick up activity as the water temperatures stabilize. Look for more consistent pompano action in the Passes on both tides. Hurricane Pass, Capri Pass and Caxambas Pass will all show an uptick on pompano action especially in the first and last hours of either tide using either shrimp on a lindy rig or tipped jig worked to the bottom on a drift. Both silver trout and speckled trout to good size are active now along the deeper holes of the Intercoastal Waterway between here and Naples and biting best on small tipped jigs worked on the strong incoming tide. As the water warms in the afternoon they will move off to the shallow flats with seagrass bottoms near Johnson and Rookery Bays. Your sheepshead targets are now a shade bigger and you have a good chance for for 12-13″ take homes ( the spawners arrive in January and easily go 15-18″). Work these with patience and a small shrimp or cut crab bait worked very slowly, in the cooler water, across the bottom. Other species that have begun to poke their heads into the action pool are flounder, whiting, and black drum. So, bottom line, you’re into a whole new facet of the great fishing here on Marco Island.
Careful on the sea condition here at least early week. Could be bouncy. Mackerel have taken their position as primaries here on the nearshore reefs and a bit beyond. With scads of bait roaming the inside reefs the mackerel are super active. They are driving the bait to the surface over those reefs enticing the gulls and terns into action as the mackerel and bluefish drive the bait schools to the surface. Would suggest staying mobile and working the edges of the surface bait eruptions with top water jigs worked quickly. Other alternative is running a troll, again through the edges of the action pool with jigs or flashy spoons. Bottom action continues on nice mangrove snapper, some triggerfish and flounder along the reefs. All on weighted tipped jigs under chum. Also this is the last call for gag grouper who move inshore in the cooler water as their season here closes (again) on 12/3/15. Best on the gags is slow trolling a magnum jointed plug just 4-5′ above the bottom.
The cooler conditions will trigger some different actions here also. It gets a lot cooler north of us in the Florida Panhandle where the pelagics summer and they will be “pulling the cork” and heading south to the Keys. So here come the kingfish,cobia, permit and tarpon heading south. The deep wrecks will be the primary beneficiaries of the reverse migration. So, go deep (if conditions permit) and work the deeper wrecks and reefs with live bait worked under chum. All will take a well presented live bait worked under chum. Live bait fish for the cobia, King and tarpon. A live small crab will do it for the permit